Noted billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma is set to step down as the company’s executive chairman. The news broke on Tuesday, morning adding that he was leaving the billion-dollar behemoth on his 55th birthday.
This news has not really come as a surprise, as Ma had made his intentions clear this time last year.
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“No company can rely solely on its founders. Because of physical limits on one’s ability and energy, no one can shoulder the responsibilities of chairman and CEO forever,” Ma has said in a letter to Alibaba customers, employees and shareholders in 2018. He had also spoken enthusiastically about working in other fields like education “before he turned 70”.
A noted news wire has reported that Ma will continue serving on Alibaba’s board until its annual general shareholders’ meeting next year. Reportedly, Ma will also remain a lifetime partner of Alibaba Partnership.
Earlier this month, Ma had made headlines because of a 45-minute long debate he had with Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai. Ma had spoken optimistically and enthusiastically about AI and had said that it posed no threat to humanity. While saying that he is “not a tech guy” (!) Ma had said, “I think AI can help us understand humans better. I don’t think AI is a threat or something terrible. Human beings are smart enough to learn. People like us, we are street smart, we’re never scared of that.”
In what seems to be a shift in priorities for the Chinese tech giant, Alibaba has been expanding its chip-making capabilities for a few years now. In 2018, the company acquired Hangzhou C-SKY Microsystems Co., Ltd., an integrated circuit design house, in a bid to increase its own chip-making capability. Earlier this year, Alibaba’s semiconductor chip subsidiary, Ping-Tou-Ge launched its first product, Xuantie 910 also known as T-Head in the Alibaba cloud conference in Shanghai which is a powerful RISC-V (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processor.