“The green mountain won’t change, the flowing water is endless. See you around!” Alibaba Founder Jack Ma told the 20th anniversary gala of the company as he officially stepped down as board chairman on Tuesday, which was also his 55-year-old birthday, SHINE reported.
“Today marks not my retirement, but the beginning of a new corporate governance scheme of Alibaba and the next stage of the company’s future development,” he said.
The Hangzhou native, a former English teacher, said he had been preparing for this moment for 10 years, and he called on businesses to truly embrace sustainable development, inclusiveness and altruism, the three biggest factors for a successful business.
Instead of becoming a family business, or seeking a professional executive management team, he hopes to bring the company’s core values into its everyday operations and to seek team leaders that truly believe in the company’s core mission.
“We’ll be facing the biggest challenges in the next 30 years with new technology advances, artificial intelligence and we must remain optimistic and actively embrace the changes,” he said.
A tearful Ma donned a guitar and a rock star wig at an event for thousands of employees of the e-commerce giant he founded 20 years ago in a small shared apartment in Hangzhou city, NDTV reported.
During a four hour celebration in an 80,000-capacity stadium, Alibaba’s billionaire executive chairman delivered on his promise of a year ago to hand over to CEO Daniel Zhang.
Costumed performers, some dancing to dubstep music and dressed in traditional Chinese dress, and singers paid tribute to Mr Ma’s reputation for dressing up and performing at big events, entering to a parade of floats representing Alibaba divisions such as shopping site Tmall and payment service Ant Financial.
“After tonight I will start a new life. I do believe the world is good, there are so many opportunities, and I love excitement so much, which is why I will retire early,” Ma said.
Ma was spotted at one point welling up with tears as staff put on skits and sang songs, prompting the topic “Jack Ma has cried” to trend on Chinese social media platform Weibo.
Toward the end of the ceremony, Ma, co-founder Lucy Peng, and CEO of Alibaba’s technology committee Wang Jian donned rock star-style leather jackets and wigs to perform Chinese pop songs. They were joined by co-founder Joe Tsai dressed in Marilyn Monroe style white dress and a blonde wig.
Zhang, also clad in rock star garb, then delivered a solo, having earlier said that Alibaba would keep investing in areas such as cloud computing.
Ma’s exit comes as Alibaba has grown to become Asia’s most valuable listed company, with a market capitalization of US$460 billion. It employs over 100,000 people, and has expanded into financial services, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
Ma will remain a lifetime partner in the Alibaba Partnership and is a member of its partnership committee. He will be devoting more time to educational causes and charity.
Meanwhile, Alibaba Group Holding’s fresh chairman has started off by mapping out his sensible plans for the nation’s tech behemoth, Yicai Global reported.
Alibaba hopes to serve more than 1 billion consumers worldwide and create more than 10 trillion yuan (over US$1.4 trillion) in gross merchandise volume in five years, Zhang said yesterday. The firm’s GMV rose by 19% to 5.7 trillion yuan in the fiscal year ended March 31.
Over the fiscal year 2020, which lasts till next March, Alibaba’s GMV will undoubtedly reach US$1 trillion, Zhang said. This would be a 17% increase from a previous fiscal year.
“We want our customers and partners to be better off than we are,” Zhang said, adding that the firm will spare no effort in completing Alibaba’s ecosystem because “only in this way, we can help all firms move toward a digitalized and smart future.”