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Jack Ma: Alibaba begins a new era when the founder leaves



  Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma arrives to attend Copyright
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Alibaba chairman Jack Ma must retire from e-commerce giant on Tuesday, marking the end of an era For the company.

Co-founded Alibaba in 1

999 and has become one of the largest global companies in the world.

Mr. Ma's success and colorful style make him one of China's most recognizable businessmen.

Daniel Jang, currently CEO of Alibaba, will replace him as CEO.

The company is now valued at $ 480 billion (£ 389 billion) and Mr Ma is the richest man in China, with a net worth of $ 38.6 billion, according to Forbes.

He is also the first founder of a generation of prominent Chinese Internet entrepreneurs to retire from his company.

"I think it will be very difficult to replace someone like Jack Ma," said Rebecca Fanin, author of a book on technology titans in China.

"He's one kind. He's Steve Jobs in China."

Who is Jack Ma?

Born into a poor family in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Mr. Ma began his career as a teacher.

He bought his first computer at the age of 33 and was surprised when no Chinese beer appeared on his first online search for beer.

With no experience in computers, Mr. Ma co-founded Alibaba in his apartment, convincing a group of friends to invest in his online marketplace.

This is not the first time he has tried to launch from the ground.

"Alibaba was his third attempt at a company, he had two trials before," says Duncan Clark, who has written a book about Mr. Ma and is also chairman of BDA China Investment Advisory.

"He saw the promise of the internet quite early, but it took him a while to have a vehicle."

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Over the years, Alibaba has grown from an online marketplace into an e-commerce giant with interests ranging from financial services to artificial intelligence.

It was originally created as a commercial business platform before expanding into consumer e-commerce in 2003 and later launched Alipay's digital payments platform.

With no experience in technology and no particular financial strength, Mr. Clark said that charisma and strategic vision were Mr. Ma's greatest asset.

"His charm is a big part of his leadership, his ability to convince people whether they are customers, employees or critical shareholders. "

The author first met Mr Ma two decades ago and the developer talks about making Alibaba one of the top 10 internet companies in the world in a decade.

" [It was] some impossible ambition to in some ways, but in some ways he made people believe, "said Mr. Clark.

Mr. Ma really made his company an international heavyweight, and its inclusion in New York set the record as the largest public offering in

Earlier this year, he argued in favor of "System 99 6, where workers are expected to work 12 hours and six days a hot topic in Chinese media.

The flaming businessman is also known for enjoying the spotlight and attending an event in Alibaba in 2017

What's next for Mr. Ma?

The 55-year-old is expected to focus on philanthropy and education after he retires.

Mr Clark said he had gradually introduced experts in technology and finance to Alibaba, and recently Mr Ma has been "deliberately interrupting".

These moves are expected to ensure a more seamless transition for Alibaba to the future without its co-founder.

Quiet, unassuming and known for deflecting from the spotlights, Mr. Zhang is nothing like his predecessor.

Inside Alibaba, Mr. Jiang is known as Xiaoyaozi, the name of a character in a Chinese martial arts novel. It means "unsettled" – someone who stands outside the battles but is great at teaching others.

This reputation will be useful as he drives Alibaba during contested times during some of the most challenging times. The Chinese market, which accounts for two-thirds of its revenue, is slowing.

At the same time, international expansion efforts have struggled.

US check on Chinese companies blocks its growth in the West. In some parts of Southeast Asia and India, analysts say understanding how to work in local markets and with local people is a challenge for the Chinese company.

Then there is a delayed public offering of many billions of dollars in Hong Kong, which was reported because of a protest against democracy there.

Yet, the greatest challenge for Mr Zhang may be to face the image of Mr Ma himself, a man who enjoys the respect and affection of his staff and the international community.


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