No, Jack Ma is not ‘retiring’, yet. According to SCMP, the New York Times report that stated he was stepping down was out of context, and factually wrong. Mr. Ma will complete his current term as a member of Alibaba Group’s board of directors until its annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020.
The South China Morning Post refutes New York Times report, published two days ago. American based newspaper claimed that the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, in an interview with the Times, announced his intention to step down and retired as chairman effective.
An Alibaba spokesman said Ma remains the company’s executive chairman and will provide transition plans over a significant period of time. Times’ report, over a long analysis, stated the move a “retirement” and in the first paragraph deemed it a “changing of the guard” for Alibaba.
New York based newspaper also said Ma had decided to relinquish his position as executive chairman on Monday, his 54th birthday, in order to shift his attention to philanthropy and education. It appeared to be a huge scoop, and was picked up by media around the world.
However, on Saturday, no Chinese newspaper reported the news of Jack Ma’s retirement, neither the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong based newspaper owned by Alibaba group, and Alizila.com, the official news-platform of the Hangzhou e-commerce group.
The report invited speculation. Was Ma leaving the company because he felt it was in good hands? Or stepping back because the competition and political implication are very stressful? Everybody knows that now, China’s high-tech sector has entered a new era where players are facing new challenges, but the chances of success are also uncertain.
In the immediate, Alibaba didn’t issue any statements concerning its founder’s retirement or Times’ report. Furthermore, neither the newspapers owned by Alibaba group nor the other main Chinese mainland newspaper or media agencies have reported anything regarding Ma’s retirement. So, was Times’ mistake or the power of Chinese propaganda?
As speculation continued, at 9 PM China time, the South China Morning Post broke the silence: “An Alibaba spokesman said Ma remains the company’s executive chairman and will provide transition plans over a significant period of time, contrary to a New York Times article that said he was ‘stepping down’ to ‘retire.’ The Times story was taken out of context and factually wrong, the spokesman said”.
Mr. Ma is a lifetime partner in the Alibaba Partnership and is a member of its partnership committee. In the evening also a quote from Jack Ma himself was published and put an end to the story: “Anyone who knows me knows that I embrace the future, it’s not about retiring, going away or backing down. “
Alibaba today announced that Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang will succeed Jack Ma as chairman of the board of Alibaba Group. Mr. Ma will continue as executive chairman of the company to ensure a smooth transition of the chairmanship to Mr. Zhang and Jack Ma will complete his current term as a member of Alibaba Group’s board of directors until its annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020.
Mr. Ma issued a letter to Alibaba’s customers, employees and shareholders, where he underlined how “This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organizational excellence and a culture of talent development“.
Jack Ma also said “A sustainable Alibaba would have to be built on sound governance, culture-centric philosophy, and consistency in developing talent. No company can rely solely on its founders and Alibaba is amazing not because of our business or scale or accomplishments. The best thing about Alibaba is that we come together under a common mission and vision.
Mr. Ma added “personally still have lots of dreams to pursue. Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle. I plan on continuing my role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership and contribute to the work of the partnership. Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”
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