Alibaba CEO Shares Tremendous Lesson in Succession Planning in Resignation Letter
Succession planning is one of those things that everyone in every industry knows is important, but they also hate to think about it. That’s especially the case for small and independent retailers who, more likely than not, are either the founder of the company or a direct descendent of the person (or persons) who started the business. It’s tough to think about and plan for the day you will leave the business and pass those head-honcho responsibilities on to someone else. But ignoring that reality could really be putting everything you’ve worked for at risk.
Earlier this month, Alibaba CEO and Founder Jack Ma announced in a short letter that he would be retiring from the company next year as they celebrate its 20th anniversary (and his 55th birthday). In those two decades, Alibaba has quickly and relatively quietly become one of the most influential companies in the world—and it’s easily the most valuable company in all of Asia. Ma could easily continue to ride the wave of success and continue to rake in whatever astronomically high salary he’s been making, but—in a move that some may look at as crazy—he’s decided that now is the right time to step aside.
In his letter to Alibaba customers, employees, and shareholders, Ma explained that he will remain use the next 12 months to work closely with Group CEO Daniel Zhang as he preps him to assume the role of chairman of the board. Ma will remain on the board of directors through the company’s annual shareholder meeting in 2020.