Alibaba founder Jack Ma stepping down to go back to teaching

IMAGE Wikimedia Commons

Jack Ma will be stepping down as chairman of Alibaba Group in 2019. The billionaire started the e-commerce site in his apartment nearly 20 years ago, and grew it into a $420-billion empire.

Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, recently announced that he is stepping down from his position in 2019. 

Ma, who turned 54 in October, is among China's richest men with a net worth of $34.7 billion according to Forbes.

In 1999, he started, an online marketplace for merchants to list their goods for international buyers. This grew to become a $420-billion empire, and is now one of the biggest tech companies in the world. 

But Jack Ma is not leaving the company to retire. Instead, he wants to go back to being a teacher, a job he held before he started Alibaba. 

Even when Jack had already grown Alibaba as an e-commerce behemoth, he did not rest on his laurels. Jack kept a high profile, speaking at conferences and meeting with world leaders. He then passed on his knowledge to other employees in his company. 

In fact, Jack spent the last 10 years preparing for a succession plan. In his letter to customers, employees, and shareholders back in September, the tycoon said, "No company can rely solely on its founders. Of all people, I should know that.


"Because of physical limits on one’s ability and energy, no one can shoulder the responsibilities of chairman and CEO forever."

Ma stepped down as CEO in 2013.

The billionaire knew that he needed to leave his company in capable hands, so he taught his successors to "develop a system of governance based on a unique culture and mechanisms."

On Alibaba's 20th anniversary next year, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang will succeed Jack as chairman of the board of the Alibaba Group. 

Jack said, "Having been trained as a teacher, I feel extremely proud of what I have achieved. Teachers always want their students to exceed them, so the responsible thing... for me and the company to do is to let younger, more talented people take over."  

Before starting Alibaba, Jack was an English teacher at a local university in China, earning $12 a month. Prior to this, he had applied for numerous jobs, including one at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and got rejected.


These rejections taught him an important lesson.  

"You have to get used to failure," he said, speaking at the University of Nairobi in 2017. 

"If you can not get used to failure—just like a boxer—if you can't get used to [being] hit, how can you win?"

Now, Jack Ma is ready to learn more. 

He said, "I still have lots of dreams to pursue. Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle... I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do.

"The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things—because what if new dreams can be realized?"





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