Ma To Step Down As Alibaba CEO

Creates Leadership Shakeup

Ma To Step Down As Alibaba CEOJack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group, has announced to employees that he plans to step down as the company's chief executive, creating a leadership shakeup as the company prepares to go public later this year. Estimated to be personally worth $3.4 billion, Ma wrote staff members telling them he expects to name a successor by May 10. Ma will maintain some level of influence at Alibaba, assuming the position of executive chairman.

"At 48, I am no longer young for the Internet business," wrote Ma, a member of Counselor's Power 50. "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 launched Alibaba in March of 1999, building the company into China's dominant e-commerce marketplace. Through its various outlets and divisions, Alibaba allows consumers and businesses to trade goods online, provides retail and payment platforms, and operates search engines and cloud-computing services. Most notably, Alibaba.com, which facilitates online international trade among small businesses, has been especially impactful to the ad specialty industry, as thousands of promotional products can be purchased directly from the site.

Alibaba did not issue a statement about Ma's decision to resign, but it now appears likely other leadership changes at the company will soon take place. "This year, most of the Alibaba leaders who were born in the 1960s will retreat from management and execution roles as we hand over leadership responsibility to colleagues from the 70s and 80s generations," Ma wrote.

Earlier this month, Alibaba announced its operations would be segmented into 25 divisions, in order to improve efficiency and flexibility. Last year, Alibaba completed lengthy and sometimes contentious negotiations with Yahoo, which once held a 40% stake in the Chinese company. Alibaba repurchased the majority of those shares for $7.1 billion, paving the way for an initial public offering this year, made almost inevitable because of incentives in the deal.

Ma leaves Alibaba in excellent financial shape. A report issued in 2012 showed over a nine-month period, the company's profit more than tripled to $781.7 million, with sales increasing 74% to $2.9 billion.