Jack Ma Steps Down from $460 Billion Alibaba Empire

In 1999, Jack Ma and seventeen partners founded the small e-commerce business Alibaba, which would eventually grow to be worth over $460 billion. In celebration of his 55th birthday this year, Ma made the long-anticipated move to enact his succession plan and step down from his core role as executive chairman. With CEO Daniel Zhang set to take over Ma’s position, Alibaba provides a great example of how to effectively transition your business for future success.

Although Ma is known for his flamboyance and extravagant gatherings, he takes Alibaba’s business decisions very seriously. The official succession announcement was made over a year ago, but Ma had been thinking about his next move for over ten years. In 2010, he created Lakeside Partners, a 36-member governing committee that has nominating power over the company’s board of directors, with consent from shareholders. Ma will continue to be involved as a member of this committee going forward, and will hold a minority position with 6.2% of Alibaba’s shares.

Zhang may be considered a more reserved individual when compared to his predecessor, but his resume is just as impressive. Zhang’s accomplishments include being promoted from COO to CEO in 2010 and inventing Single’s Day, a $25 billion shopping event bigger than Amazon’s Prime Day. Ma has spoken highly of Zhang’s abilities and believes his youth and talent will drive the company forward towards globalization.

By allocating more time to planning than to Alibaba’s current achievements, Ma helped his company avoid speculation, scrutiny, and possible in-fighting among internal candidates and stakeholders. Although business succession planning (both emergency and long-term) can be a complicated process, it positions your company to operate successfully without you as its leader.

Proper business planning is a complex and on-going effort, requiring expert counsel—a professional with knowledge and experience, familiar with the challenges that characterize an entrepreneur’s business ventures. Talley LLP shares the same entrepreneurial spirit that has helped propel our clients to their current level of success. With over 25 years’ experience in helping high net worth individuals and business owners, Talley has the expertise necessary to assist entrepreneurs throughout their entire journey, from formation through succession.

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