The founder of Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba, Jack Ma, plans to step down from his position as CEO on May 10, but will remain as executive chairman to develop his company's strategies and talent as well as social responsibilities efforts.
According to a post on Alizila Tuesday, Ma said in an e-mail to employees that stepping down as CEO was a "difficult decision, for this could be confounding especially for someone of my age who should be at the height of his career".
He added that at 48 years of age, he was "no longer 'young' for the Internet business" and wanted to make room for the next generation of Alibaba employees who are better equipped to manage and lead the Internet company.
According to the post, Ma began his e-mail stating he had "looked forward to writing this letter for a long time, and this moment has finally arrived". He said he realized years ago he was not suited to be a traditional CEO of a big company.
Ma, who founded Alibaba in 1999, will remain as CEO until May 10 this year, when a successor is expected to be named. The date also marks the 10th anniversary of Alibaba's Taobao online shopping platform, the post said.
It added that while Ma has not yet named a successor, he hinted in his e-mail that the new CEO will come from within the company. "Don't worry, we are confident that we will be able to announce a new CEO on May 10," he wrote.
According to a separate report by The New York Times Tuesday, Ma said he will not be the only leader handing over some of the company’s reins. In his e-mail, he said most of Alibaba's leaders "born in the 1960s" will pass their leadership responsibilities to younger colleagues, born in the 1970s and 1980s.
"We believe that they understand the future better than us, and then have a better chance of seizing the future," he wrote.
Ma's stepping down comes shortly after Alibaba said it will reorganize itself into 25 smaller business units to improve flexibility and better focus on different markets.
Earlier in September, Alibaba bought back half of the stake its U.S. partner Yahoo owned in it for US$7.6 billion, a move widely seen as the Chinese e-commerce giant to have greater reins on its business.