Daniel Zhang is getting all the buzz since Alibaba founder Jack Ma announced his retirement.
On 10 September 2018, Jack, who turned 54 years old on the said date, has informed the media that he would step down as the Chinese e-commerce giant’s executive chairman next year and named the company CEO, Daniel, as the new executive chairman.
The 46-year-old successor will be part of an unprecedented succession plan that will slowly take the focus off one of China’s most recognisable corporate names over the next 12 months.
Jack will remain Alibaba’s executive chairman during the year-long period to ensure a smooth and successful transition, and stay on as an Alibaba director until a shareholder’ meeting in 2020.
“This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped into the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organisational excellence and a culture of consistent talent development,” Jack said in his letter. He also stated that he plan to use his retirement to devote his time to philanthropy focused on education.
“Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba,” Jack said in his letter.
But is Daniel Zhang able to fill in Jack’s shoe? Here are a few things you should know about Jack’s replacement.
1. He is a Shanghai-educated certified accountant.
Daniel was born in Shanghai in 1972 and studied finance at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.
2. Daniel has served as CEO of Alibaba since 2015.
Jack first turned over the position of CEO of 2013 to Jonathan Lu. But Daniel took over as CEO from Jonathan after Jack announced that it was time for the company to be run by people born in the 1970s and after. At the time, Daniel was serving as COO.
3. He worked at the Alibaba Group more broadly for 11 years.
Daniel joined Taobao as chief financial officer in 2007. The following year he became the chief operating officer of Tabao.
4. Daniel Zhang’s nickname is “Free and Unfettered Person”.
Alibaba employees pick nicknames for themselves when they first joined the company.
5. China’s business news media named him the top CEO of 2018.
Alibaba’s stock has grown 87% during Zhang tenure and has a market value of around USD 420 billion, which is bigger than rival Tencent Holdings.
6. He has been credited as the “key architect” of Singles’ Day, turning it into the world’s biggest shopping day, outpacing Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
In 2011, Daniel was promoted to President of Tmall.com, a business-to-consumer shopping spinoff from Taobao. It was during his time running Tmall that he launched the Single’s Day shopping event. Last year, Singles’ Day, which falls on 11 November, topped USD 25 billion in sales.