‘Jack Ma’ on British Herald Cover for September-October 2019
As Alibaba, China’s most valuable public tech company marked its 20th birthday in September, its founder Jack Ma announced his decision to retire as its Executive Chairman. In its September edition, British Herald decided to focus the cover story on one of China’s tech giants – Jack Ma and the magazine was released by London Mayor Mr. Sadiq Khan.
British Herald captured Mr. Ma’s statement where he said his retirement is not the end of an era but “the beginning of an era.” He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education. The retirement makes Mr. Ma one of the first founders among a generation of prominent Chinese internet entrepreneurs to step down from their companies. His retirement is a sign of confidence in current management as the business evolves by expanding beyond e-commerce to include digital payments, cloud computing and the production of big-budget movies. Firms including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JD.com have flourished in recent years, growing to nearly rival American internet behemoths like Amazon and Google in their size, scope and ambition.
A former English teacher, Mr. Ma started Alibaba in 1999 and built it into one of the world’s most consequential e- commerce and digital payments companies, transforming how Chinese people shop and pay for things. The 55-year- old Mr Ma, China’s richest man, is a charismatic leader who built Alibaba from a shared apartment into a company worth $462bn. Alibaba is a Chinese multinational conglomerate holding company specializing in e- commerce, retail, internet and technology. Alibaba started as an online marketplace for businesses to sell their products to other businesses. Today, Alibaba’s empire encompasses e-commerce, online banking, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment — and even a corporate messaging service similar to Slack. The company owns or holds stakes in some of China’s most important media assets, including the Twitter-like social media site Weibo and the Hong Kong-based English- language newspaper The South China Morning Post.
Among China’s biggest companies, Alibaba is viewed as one of the firms with the deepest ranks of management talent. Alibaba’s mission is to “make it easy to do business anywhere”. The company runs China’s premier online shopping portals Taobao and Tmall, websites that deal in everything from hairdryers to dairy products. Under Ma’s leadership, Alibaba has grown to become Asia’s most valuable listed company. It employs over 100,000 people, and has expanded into financial services, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. Apart from e-commerce, Alibaba also manages digital payments, online banking, cloud computing and digital media and entertainment. Alibaba has created 14 million jobs for China directly and indirectly.
A prominent business leader, the Chinese Internet Entrepreneur, Ma is seen as a global ambassador for Chinese business and as such is frequently listed as one of the world’s most powerful people and world’s 20th Richest Person by Bloomberg Billionaires Index and Forbes. Jack Ma, knows a thing or two about the economic and political forces shaping the world today. And contrary to the global mood, the billionaire Chinese entrepreneur is a staunch believer of breaking down trade barriers.
Jack Ma, long an outspoken advocate for China’s extreme work culture, stressed that people should work just 12 hours a week with the benefits of artificial intelligence. “For the next 10, 20 years, every human being, country, government should focus on reforming the education system, making sure our kids can find a job, a job that only requires three days a week, four hours a day”.
Apart from his business triumphs, the Chinese entrepreneur is known for his charismatic public appearances and philanthropic work. He is the founder of the Jack Ma Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on improving education, the environment and public health.