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Jack Ma: '100 percent' confident in Alibaba's future

By Chen Liubing | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-09-19 13:26
Jack Ma speaks at the 2018 Alibaba Investor Day in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on Sept 18, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Jack Ma, co-founder and chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, said he is 100 percent confident in the company's future at the 2018 Alibaba Investor Day on Sept 18. It is the first time Ma talked about his succession plan since his announcement he would step down as Alibaba's chairman in a year. Ma also laid out Alibaba's blueprint for the next 20 years, Securities Daily reported.

"It is a tough task to lead a company like Alibaba, but I 100 percent believe Daniel Zhang will do a better job than I did," Ma said at the conference. Current CEO Daniel Zhang, or Zhang Yong, will take over the position starting Sept 10, 2019, as Ma announced in a previous open letter to the public.

Ma said he knew his era would come to an end one day when the company got its first investment from Yahoo in 2005. Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 and hopes the company lasts at least 102 years, to cover three centuries. "But no one can be a CEO for 102 years, thus we need a succession system with multiple potential leaders," he said.

"We finally came up with our own mode, the Partnership," Ma said. Alibaba started to explore the Partnership in 2009, and the company has become "fully prepared" after 10 years' preparation.

"If you truly love your company, you should learn to let go," Ma said. "My responsibility is to let go."

"I am not sad at all," Ma said. "I am only 54 years old, still very young. I can still do astonishing things before my 70th birthday."

Ma also refuted rumors he was forced to step down. "It is not an unexpected decision, but a prudent one I have prepared for 10 years," Ma said. The chairman also joked he doesn't want to retire 10 years later, when he is 64 years old. "That would be torture to the youngsters," he said.

The core management team of Alibaba appeared at Alibaba's Investor Day from Sept 17 to 18, and young people, as Ma said, are playing a major part.

Ten out of the 16 speakers at the conference are Alibaba partners, and 75 percent were born after 1970. The youngest, Jiang Fan, CEO of Taobao.com, was born in 1985.

According to Ma, the short-term vision of Alibaba is to have a gross merchandise volume of $1trillion in 2019. In 2036, the company aims to serve 2 billion customers worldwide and 10 million enterprises, he said. Global sales, purchase, payment, transportation and tour for small and medium enterprises and customers are no longer a dream, he added.

According to Alibaba's official website, the Q2 revenue of Alibaba increased 61 percent on a yearly basis, beating other global tech giants.

The company's strategic investment assets, including Ant Finance, Sina Weibo, and Sun Art Retail Group, are worth $80 billion at the current stage, said Alibaba CFO Wu Wei.

About 500 analysts and institutional investors, including Black Rock, Temasek and Oppenheimer attended this year's Alibaba Investor Day, according to the report.

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