Jack Ma steps down next week as chairman of Alibaba, but the start-up he built into an online retail behemoth is expected to keep thriving into a new era thanks to a culture of innovation he helped nurture.
A former English teacher whose often playful image shattered the stereotype of the drab Chinese executive, Ma officially leaves on Tuesday, his 55th birthday.
Ma plans to put his vast fortune — among China’s biggest at $41 billion — into initiatives serving his first love, education, following the footsteps of a fellow tech innovator he admires: Bill Gates.
The departure of charismatic founders from big tech companies typically causes hand-wringing and wobbling share prices, but not at Alibaba.
The company’s operational reins have for a couple of years now been in the hands of a respected team of executives who have kept it on e-commerce’s cutting-edge.