One of China's best known corporate leaders, Jack Ma, will step down as
CEO of Alibaba Group, the e-commerce firm he founded in 1999 to tap the
nation's enormous online shopping potential, saying younger people are
better placed to run the company.
Ma said he would name a successor by
May 10, when he switches to the role of executive chairman. He said
most of Alibaba's leaders "born in the 1960s" would also pass their
leadership responsibilities to younger colleagues.
"As a founder
CEO, stepping down is a difficult decision. It's not because I wanted to
take things easy (though the job of Alibaba CEO is no easy task), it's
because I see that Alibaba's young people have better, more brilliant,
dreams than mine, and they are more capable of building a future that
belongs to them," Ma wrote in an e-mail to employees. Reuters obtained
the letter on Tuesday from a source close to Alibaba.
The shift is
a significant one for Alibaba and follows moves announced last week to
chop the group into 25 smaller divisions to give managers more
It also comes after a transformative deal Alibaba
struck with Yahoo Inc last year, in which the Chinese company agreed to
buy back about half of the stake in itself held by its U.S. partner.
Alibaba had long sought to buy back the shares to help regain control
over its own corporate destiny.
In an interview with The New York
Times, 48-year-old Ma acknowledged he was feeling the strain. "When I
was 35, I was so energetic and fresh-thinking. I had nothing to worry
about," he said, adding the role of executive chairman would let him
focus on broad strategic issues, as well as corporate development and
"I will still be very active," he said. "It is impossible for me to retire."
Group includes Alibaba.com, an online market for small businesses;
Taobao, a consumer shopping site; and Alipay, an online payment
© Thomson Reuters 2012