In these times, due to the influence of branding as well as the ever-increasing competition among tech companies, it has become more and more difficult for industry leaders to carve out a unique identity for themselves and create a discourse among colleagues that allows them to stay relevant. To do this, leaders need to create a broad vision for their companies and constantly put forth innovative ideas.
One example of such a leader is Alibaba CEO and Co-Founder Jack Ma. For this reason, perhaps, news of his recent announcement to retire from the company has been attracting lots of attention.
Considered China's richest person, the e-commerce company's co-founder holds a spot in the world's top twenty billionaires in the world with a reported net worth of $39.9 billion.
“There’s a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates. I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier," says billionaire Jack Ma https://t.co/B8xtgRoplZpic.twitter.com/6RW8uBHgo9
— Bloomberg Asia (@BloombergAsia) September 7, 2018
Though he will no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, Ma will continue to serve on Alibaba's board where he will offer his input about the future financial direction of the company.
However, news outlets are pointing out the leader is leaving at a very early age. In terms of why he chose to retire at this point, Ma summed it up best in a Bloomberg Television interview.
"There’s a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates. I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier,” Ma said. “I think some day, and soon, I’ll go back to teaching. This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba.”
Ever the drama creators, other outlets were quick to say Ma is trying to one-up Gates. However, the visionary leaders are known for having respect for each other.
A CEO with a legacy
The impact of Ma's work during the years that he led Ali Baba, as many are aware, extends far beyond his leadership responsibilities. He made this most evident with the talk he delivered earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, laying out his ideas on how to make existing and emerging world systems operate better and smarter.
Ma's departure is sure to leave an impression, perhaps one that is larger than the one he made during the years he led Alibaba.
In terms of the impact on the Chinese market and various business sectors, Duncan Clark, author of the book Alibaba: The House Jack Ma Built, explained:“He’s a symbol of the health of China’s private sector and how high they can fly whether he likes it or not. His retirement will be interpreted as frustration or concern whether he likes it or not.”
His success goes beyond the script of a simple rags-to-riches story. Ma is a man "who deftly maneuvered through the discontinuities and barriers in China to create one of the greatest companies in the world", as Tim Draper, founder of Draper Associates, DFJ, and Draper University said.
He defied all the limitations placed upon the Chinese market and Chinese business leaders creating a path of success that set him apart from others. Good luck on your retirement journey Ma!