Alibaba appoints Daniel Zhang to succeed Jack Ma as chairman in 12-month succession plan – SCMP

What happened: Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of China’s most valuable company Alibaba, announced to Daniel Zhang, the chief executive officer of Alibaba, would succeed him. In an open letter to all staff revealed by SCMP, Ma said he would remain the company’s executive chairman during a year-long transition and stay on as Alibaba director until a shareholders’ meeting in 2020. Ma said he would focus on education and philanthropy after retiring from Alibaba.

Why it’s important: Ma said on his Weibo that the transition shows Alibaba has become a company that is built on “systems of organizational excellence and a culture of consistent talent development” rather than that relies on individuals. Daniel Zhang became CEO of Alibaba in 2015 and he started Single Day Shopping Festival at Alibaba, which has become an annual national phenomenon. Ma has taken a back seat from Alibaba since he stepped down as CEO in 2013. Jack is the first founder of the BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) triumvirate to distance himself from the running of the company he founded. Founders Pony Ma (Tencent) and Robin Li (Baidu) are still CEO’s of their companies.


Jiefei Liu is a Beijing based tech reporter. She focuses on the union of tech and content creation and loves agriculture. You can write to her at

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