Alibaba’s Jack Ma Steps Down As US-China Trade War Gathers Steam
Alibaba founder Jack Ma. 
Alibaba founder Jack Ma. (Photo Courtesy: Aung Myo Naing/Facebook)

Alibaba’s Jack Ma Steps Down As US-China Trade War Gathers Steam

Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, who helped launch China's online retailing boom, stepped down as chairman of the world's biggest e-commerce company Tuesday at a time when its fast-changing industry faces uncertainty amid a US-Chinese tariff war.

Alibaba Group's Chief Executive Daniel Zhang will be the new chairman.

Ma, one of China's wealthiest and best-known entrepreneurs, gave up his post on his 55th birthday as part of a succession announced a year ago. As communicated last year, he will stay on as a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a 36-member group with the right to nominate a majority of the company's board of directors.

Zhang, who was earlier the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Taobao, an online shopping portal owned by the Alibaba Group, was appointed the CEO of the Alibaba Group in 2015. He has been with the company since 2007.

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The company has shifted focus to serving China's growing consumer market and expanded into online banking, entertainment and cloud computing. Domestic businesses accounted for 66 percent of its $16.7 billion in revenue in the quarter ending in June.

Chinese retailing faces uncertainty amid a tariff war that has raised the cost of US imports.

Alibaba says its revenue rose 42 percent over a year earlier in the quarter ending in June to $16.7 billion and profit rose 145 percent to $3.1 billion. Still, that was off slightly from 2018's full-year revenue growth of 51 percent.

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The total amount of goods sold across Alibaba's e-commerce platforms rose 25 percent last year to $853 billion. By comparison, the biggest US e-commerce company, Amazon.com Inc., reported total sales of $277 billion.

Alibaba's deputy chairman, Joe Tsai, told reporters in May the company is "on the right side" of issues in US-Chinese trade talks. Tsai said Alibaba stands to benefit from Beijing's promise to increase imports and a growing consumer market.

Alibaba is one of a group of companies including Tencent Holding Ltd., a games and social media giant, search engine Baidu.com Inc. and e-commerce rival JD.com that have revolutionized shopping, entertainment and consumer services in China.

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Alibaba was founded at a time when few Chinese were online. As internet use spread, the company expanded into consumer-focused retailing and services. Few Chinese used credit cards, so Alibaba created the Alipay online payments system.

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