by BLOOMBERG/ pic by BLOOMBERG
Jack Ma is giving up the reins of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. after presiding over one of the most spectacular creations of wealth the world has ever seen.
Ma became Asia’s richest person in 2016, overtaking Dalian Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin. The title now belongs to Reliance Industries Ltd. Chairman Ambani, who’s worth $47.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest individuals.
The Alibaba co-founder has become the face of Chinese business even while a member of the ruling Communist Party. Ma, who recalled in a 2015 interview how KFC once rejected his job application, currently owns a 5.3% Alibaba stake worth $24.6 billion, or about 10-fold the $2.6 billion his 7.4% slice in 2012 was worth. Since taking over as executive chairman in 2013, Alibaba’s revenue has surged about 1,100% to 378.8 billion yuan ($56.2 billion) in the year ended March 2019. His fortune doesn’t count shares in the company held by his foundation, or the value of stock he’s sold over time.
Ma isn’t the only person to derive fabulous wealth from the Alibaba empire. The company’s trajectory at one point spawned at least 10 other billionaires across its ecosystem, from a parcel delivery company and supermarket to an online payments affiliate. Despite stepping down, Ma is expected to remain pivotal to a sprawling industrial machine with e-commerce at its heart.
“At this point, it’s still unlikely that Zhang would make important decisions without Ma’s support,” said Brock Silvers, managing director at Shanghai-based Kaiyuan Capital, an investment advisory firm.