Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Chinese ecommerce powerhouse Alibaba, will soon shed his CEO title, though he will remain executive chairman, and focus on strategic direction of the company, which he founded in 1999.
Ma sent a letter around to Alibaba employees, which is quoted on the company's blog:
As a founder CEO," Ma wrote in the e-mail, "stepping down as CEO is a difficult decision, for this could be confounding especially for someone of my age who should be at the height of his career."
But "at 48 I am no longer 'young' for the Internet business," Ma wrote, explaining that he wanted to make room for "the next generation of Alibaba people (who) are better equipped to manage and lead an Internet ecosystem like ours.
"I believe that doing what makes oneself happy, staying within one's own limits and being a good partner to one's more capable colleagues, is the right thing for me to do," Ma wrote.
Ma will officially step down as CEO on May 10. He has been executive chairman as the company has shown impressive growth. The company has yet to choose his successor.
Alibaba has 24,000 employees, and is valued at $40 billion. Last month, the company announced that it hit $157 billion in annual sales.