Ecommerce giant company, Alibaba revealed on Monday that its cofounder, Jack Ma, would step down as head on September 10, 2019, AFP reported.
The executive chairman will stay onboard for twelve months to ensure a ‘smooth transition’. His successor, chief executive officer Daniel Zhang, will then take over the reins.
“While remaining as executive chairman in the next 12 months, I will work closely with Daniel to ensure a smooth and successful transition,” Ma said in the statement. “Thereafter, I will stay on the Alibaba board of directors until our annual shareholders meeting in 2020.”
Ma earlier taught English before building the company in 1999.
His statement did not provide any specifics on what Ma’s future plans were, but said that he wanted to ‘return to education’.
“As for myself, I still have lots of dreams to pursue. Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle,” he said.
Ma is the third richest person in China with Forbes magazine estimating his net worth to be $36.6 billion. He is known as one among the best Chinese corporate leaders.
He is currently heading a variety of educational and environmental charitable projects. He is seen as a cult figure his native internet industry and has a large following by entrepreneurs. In lieu with keeping an international face, he often invites global leaders to the company’s headquarters.
His company boasts of 66,000 full-time employees and is currently the biggest ecommerce firm in China. During Friday’s closing, the company had a $420 billion market value.
Earlier in January, Alibaba developed an artificial intelligence model that scored better than humans in a Stanford University reading and comprehension test.
The Chinese e-commerce titan has joined the likes of Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc. in a race to develop AI that can enrich social media feeds, target ads and services or even aid in autonomous driving. Beijing has endorsed the technology in a national-level plan that calls for the country to become the industry leader 2030.