Jack Ma, the creator, and Chairman of Alibaba Group, China’s largest shopping and e-commerce platform, has officially stepped down as the Chairman of the 10th of September. On his 55th birthday, he already announced this retirement on this day last year. The event was one of celebration and appreciation for Jack Ma.
Within the Alibaba Group, there were many people excited for Jack Ma as he prepares for the next chapter in his life. The event held in Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre, a stadium that houses an 80,000 seat capacity. Many notable Chinese and international figures were in attendance for Jack Ma’s retirement. They entertained celebrity performances, music, heartwarming speeches, and respect for Jack Ma’s contributions to China.
Some Notable achievements of Jack Ma
Ma is on the board of SoftBank Group Corp., one of Alibaba’s principal shareholders and a Japanese corporation listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum, chairman of the Zhejiang Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the China Entrepreneur Club. In May 2019, he was once renamed as a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocate through the United Nations. He has additionally served as co-chair of the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation of the United Nations considering July 2018.
The Alibaba management crew is Jack Ma, Executive Chairman; Joseph Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman; Daniel Zhang, Director and Chief Executive Officer and Michael Evans, Director and President; Eric Jing, Director; Masayoshi Son, director; Chee Tung, unbiased director; Walter Kwauk, independent director; Jerry Yang, independent director; Börje Ekholm, impartial director; Wan Martello,
Tsai, who has an estimated internet worth of US$9.6 billion, is about to be the sole investor in the NBA club, Brooklyn Nets, after agreeing to purchase the final 51% of the membership owned by way of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.
Who is Daniel Zhang?
In attendance was a prominent figure and Jack Ma’s new successor, Daniel Zhang. Zhang is not new to the seat that Jack Ma has left for him. At the age of 47, Daniel Zhang has been the CEO of Alibaba since 2015, a director of the company since 2014. And, he has been within the Alibaba Group through its subsidiaries since 2007. So, it’s safe to say that he knows what he is getting.
Alibaba is a company that serves as a giant of e-commerce both in China and Internationally. The Group is worth a substantial 460 billion dollars and serves as a leader in e-commerce all around the world.
Daniel Zhang originally began his career with Arthur Andersen as a financial auditor. After successfully graduating from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. After leaving Arthur Andersen, he eventually joined Alibaba in 2007 where he served as the Chief Financial Officer of Taobao.
He executed his role diligently until he found a new opportunity in 2011. Subsequently, Zhang received a promotion where he took on an additional part as the general manager of Tmall.com, a property of Alibaba Group. He was the president of Tmall.com when his full services were necessary as an independent platform.
Daniel Zhang’s vision for Alibaba Group
Daniel Zhang, a scholar, and a soft-spoken individual has excellent English skills but does not share the same flamboyance as Ma, the most recognizable entrepreneur in China.
According to Zhang in a Bloomberg interview, “We had this succession planned for a very long time.” In his words, “We already built a solid foundation within e-commerce, shipping and logistics, cloud computing and payment transactions. Every business is adopting the digital era; for the next 20 years, this will be the case. With Alibaba, our mission is to make it easier to do business anywhere.”
“Our goal is to figure out the best way to realize our mission in the digital era. Therefore, we will continue to develop more businesses and services to address the needs of our customers. We want to serve as the necessary digital infrastructure to make our business partners succeed in this era.”
Before joining Alibaba, Zhang also worked as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Shanda Interactive Entertainment, a famous game developer from China.
Zhang on being an accountant
According to Zhang, “My father was an accountant, and he was also a graduate from the university I attended. However, he didn’t want me to follow his footsteps as an accountant. It’s a funny story actually. When I joined Arthur Andersen, I joked with him and said, ‘After many years of being pushed from accounting, I am an auditor now.’ So, I guess I was never an accountant for even one day.” he informed Bloomberg.
Arthur Andersen was once one of the world’s biggest multinational companies. However, it liquidated in 2001 after the Enron scandal.
On this, Zhang said, “It’s like being a soldier at the frontier. Suddenly, your headquarters is gone. That was a highly unique experience. It is one that was so important in my life. At Alibaba, we have many acquisitions and mergers going on. So, I always tell my team, whenever we acquire or invest in a business, we have to understand the experience their workers have had in those companies.”
The importance of investing in “New” according to Daniel Zhang
“Therefore, we should provide guidance for these workers because they are good people. Also, if we can’t give them guidance, they won’t be encouraged to improve. If that’s the case, they will be compelled to leave. However, one we embrace them; they will be willing to work hard and stay.”
On September 2nd, Alibaba invested 2 billion dollars towards a cross-border e-commerce platform with the US. With Alibaba, they are highly confident about China’s future with imports and the e-commerce market. Because of this, Alibaba believes it is still at its infancy due to their high potential for growth, according to Daniel Zhang.
According to Zhang, there is significant importance that comes with creating and acquiring a business.
He said, “I believe that every business follows a life cycle. You have to create new businesses and innovate in new technology, with newer models constantly. After this, you can make your business sustainable successfully. We have always had a vision for a sustainable and long-term business model.”
“However, it’s not as easy on the surface. But, I strongly believe that we have to learn to kill our existing businesses. Therefore, I’d love to see our new businesses kill all our existing ones for progress.”
Why Daniel Zhang Believes In Adding New People To The Team
According to Zhang, he always performs a performance evaluation annually. Also, he holds a class at every quarter in order to successfully groom the future of Alibaba.
“Each year, I dedicate a lot of my time to people, especially the recruitment of new people. I don’t focus on any specific position. If our office has any vacant position, then my business executives and our HR people will handle it. I’m not involved in that process. However, I want to find people with good potential and experience for our future. So, every year, I gather a couple of people to join us. They aren’t many, just four, five or six.”
“So, if we look back to a few years, some of our people are now leading a single business within our group and growing into new business leaders. Our businesses are constantly expanding, and so, we have to pay attention to new leaders. Also, we need some young people that are vibrant and ready to share the same values we uphold. As a result, we look towards different industries. We are also looking at people that possess great leadership skills and show high potential for success.”
According to Zhang, “I always evaluate myself every year. Every time, I try to look at the number of new businesses and startups that I incubate. Also, the new people I discover yearly.”
Daniel Zhang’s Hobbies
Aside from work, Zhang is an avid sports lover and is a massive fan of basketball. “I love Houston Rockets. I’m a huge fan. I’ve been supporting them during the days of Yao Ming. Even long before that, I’ve been a fan when Hakeem Olajuwon was with them and helped them become champions in 1994 and 1995. So, I am a big sports fan. I watch sports games regularly. Although, my favorite star in the NBA has to be Reggie Miller. He’s outstanding.”
With Daniel Zhang taking over, Alibaba now has a new leader that embodies the same passion for success that Jack Ma upholds. Daniel Zhang might have a different personality, but his mindset is what likely compelled Jack Ma to appoint him in the first place. Zhang is a true leader that cares about his employees and the success of Alibaba Group. From the interviews and information on him so far, Zhang is someone that is ready to take on this role.