Alibaba Group, one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies, said on Monday an executive vice president will replace founder Jack Ma as chief executive.
Ma said on Jan. 15 that he was relinquishing the operational reins of the company. At 48, the founder will remain Alibaba Group executive chairman and help shape the company’s business strategy.
Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba in 1999 to enable overseas retailers to buy products from Chinese suppliers. The company expanded its business to include e-commerce with its Taobao and Tmall sites. Alibaba’s success came at the expense of eBay’s China division.
Ma said it is important that a younger generation of leaders take the operation helm of the company.
“We believe that they understand the future better than us, and then have a better chance of seizing the future, ” he wrote in an email to employees explaining his change in duties.
Executive Vice President Jonathan Lu Zhaoxi, 43, who has led three of Alibaba’s major divisions during a period of high growth during the past 13 years, will take over as CEO of the Hangzhou-based company in May.
“Jonathan and I have worked together for 13 years,” Ma wrote in an e-mail to Alibaba employees. “During that time, he founded the Alibaba.com Guangdong sales team; was the founding president of Alipay; served as president of Big Taobao; stepped in as CEO of the then-listed Alibaba.com. He is currently the Group’s chief data officer and president of Aliyun Mobile OS.
“He is passionate about and familiar with the Group’s various businesses,” Ma said. “Not only has he contributed to building our culture and organization and developed many talented people, he also possesses a unique leadership style and charisma.”
Last year, Yahoo, which invested $1 billion in Alibaba, agreed to sell back half of its stake to the company for $7.1 billion.