Jack Ma has officially stepped down from Alibaba, leaving the business by writing a poem dedicated to its home of Hangzhou.
The Chinese internet entrepreneur and one of Alibaba’s founders announced that he’d be stepping down last year, timed with the internet giant’s 20th anniversary. He will still remain linked to the business but in a less hands-on capacity.
While Ma has grown Alibaba into a global business, one that’s changed the face of e-commerce globally, driving billions in sales each year, his parting thoughts was an ‘Ode to Hangzhou’.
The words, translated from Chinese, tell an emotional story of hard-fought dreams and the inspiring story of a city that is now a hub for entrepreneurs.
“We gathered brilliant minds at the West Lake
We hosted fashion shows along the White Causeway. Imagination still runs wild,
Bizarre ideas continue to ensue.
Those seemingly absurd views
Those flickering lights of youth.
You ushered the dream chasers to the center stage,
And inspired the entrepreneurs to follow the light in their hearts.”
A poem could seem an unusual choice for a departing entrepreneur but he was also known as a personality, once starring in his own martial arts film.
Ma has also been praised for his connection to people and culture as a leader, Speaking to The Drum last year, Humphrey Ho, managing director of the LA office of Chinese digital agency Hylink, said: “The first thing you notice is that people have been at Alibaba a long time. There’s usually a lot of turnover in the tech industry, but that’s not the case with Alibaba compared to other big tech conglomerates in China.”
Ma wasn’t the only founder of Alibaba, it was started with 18 original founders, some still within the business and others that departed a long time ago. Ma, however, was the one founder that managed to become the face of the business and what it stood for as it grew beyond China and became a global household name.
Alibaba has left the business in the hands of Alibaba's chief executive officer Daniel Zhang who will now be chairman of the board of Alibaba Group.
After the announcement last year, the stock price took a very short dip but it bounced back, as it was widely considered that Ma had built a business greater than the sum of its founders.
Ma will continue to be part of the business as a lifelong member of its 'partnership committee', which has 36 members who are also members of senior management of Alibaba Group or its affiliates.