China’s Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma is leaving the firm on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at a time when business has taken a dive, Reuters reported on Monday (Sept. 9).
Ma’s hand-picked successor is Daniel Zhang, an accountant by trade.
“He has the logic and critical thinking skills of a super-computer, a commitment to his vision, the courage to wholeheartedly dare to take on innovative business models and industries of the future,” Ma said of Zhang in 2018 in a message announcing his appointment.
As CEO, Zhang’s leadership style will likely be noticeably different than Ma, who is considered “flamboyant and charismatic” and is among the most recognized Chinese entrepreneurs.
Ma, a former English teacher, launched Alibaba 20 years ago from his shared apartment in the city of Hangzhou in eastern China, the article said.
One of Zhang’s major challenges will be finding new areas of growth as China’s eCommerce sector matures, analysts said.
“If Alibaba wants to find new innovations or trends, this is going to be more difficult than before,” Liu Yiming, an analyst at the research division of 36kr, a Chinese tech publishing group, told Reuters. “For Daniel Zhang, this will be a big challenge.”
Earlier this month, Alibaba announced a deal to buy NetEase’s cross-border retail platform Kaola for $2 billion. The deal comes amid a general push in China to promote more cross-border eCommerce. Under the acquisition, Kaola will merge with Alibaba’s Tmall Global while still operating independently to create a massive cross-border eCommerce business.
China’s cross-border eCommerce market hit $1 trillion in transactions in the first quarter of 2019, 36Kr reported. Despite Kaola’s impressive growth, NetEase, known for its gaming and music operations, has been looking to sell its eCommerce unit for most of the year.