Daniel Zhang: The New Face of Alibaba

Jack Ma lauds his successor as a ‘next-generation leader,’ but many say Zhang has big shoes to fill.

Nineteen years after Alibaba Group’s founding, the company’s executive chairman, Jack Ma, has announced that he will step down from the position next year and named chief executive officer Daniel Zhang as his successor.

Zhang will take the helm of one of China’s biggest e-commerce companies on Sept. 10, 2019, after having served as its CEO for just over four years, Ma said in a statement on Monday. Ma, who co-founded the company in 1999, will remain Alibaba’s executive chairman until then, and afterward will stay on as director of the company’s board and a permanent member of the Alibaba Partnership, a cohort of 36 people involved with the company who embody and promote its mission, vision, and values.

“Starting the process of passing the Alibaba torch to Daniel and his team is the right decision at the right time, because I know from working with them that they are ready, and I have complete confidence in our next generation of leaders,” Ma wrote in a letter addressed to Alibaba customers, employees, and shareholders.

Duncan Clark, author of “Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built,” told Sixth Tone that Zhang, who has been credited as the architect of Alibaba’s ever-expanding e-commerce outlets, is a well-respected figure within the company — and that while he might not match Ma’s popularity and high profile, Zhang has demonstrated sufficient expertise to take the reins of the company.

“He is known to investors and seen as a safe pair of hands,” Clark said. “But Jack will remain a very important figure — so the question is, what will he actually do? Will Daniel be able to take on more responsibilities, or will he still focus on day-to-day business? We have yet to see.” Read the full article here.


– This is original content by Sixth Tone and has been republished with permission.