Today, Jack Ma officially steps down as the chairman of Alibaba, the giant e-commerce company he cofounded 20 years ago. Ma’s resignation also falls on another momentous day—his 55th birthday.
Ma has implemented a succession plan—passing the baton to the next generation, including CEO Daniel Zhang and CFO Maggie Wu.
“Having been trained as a teacher, I feel extremely proud of what I have achieved. Teachers always want their students to exceed them, so the responsible thing to do for me and the company to do is to let younger, more talented people take over in leadership roles so that they inherit our mission ‘to make it easy to do business anywhere,’” Ma stated in his resignation letter on the 19th anniversary of Alibaba.
Ma says that he will continue to serve in some advisory functions.
His next chapter will be to pivot from the business world to improving education through philanthropy, following the footsteps of Bill Gates, a fellow pioneer in technological innovation. Ma would rather appropriate the earnings he’s made from Alibaba to positively changing the education system in China, instead of handing it to investors or banks.