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China tech

Five things to know about Alibaba as Jack Ma hands over the reins

Chinese tech giant faces challenges as Daniel Zhang inherits chairman title

When Alibaba Group Holding founder Jack Ma announced his retirement plans a year ago, the former English teacher made it clear that he wanted to devote himself to education.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Jack Ma, the entrepreneur who built Alibaba Group Holding into a Chinese e-commerce powerhouse two decades ago in his apartment in Hangzhou, China, will officially hand over his chairman title to CEO Daniel Zhang on Tuesday. New York-listed Alibaba, which now has a market cap of nearly half a trillion dollars, says there will be no public events to mark the departure of the company's legendary founder. Instead, Alibaba will host an internal party to celebrate its 20th anniversary, which falls on the same date as Ma's retirement.

Much is expected in the post-Ma era. At Alibaba's 19th-anniversary celebration last year, Ma delivered his surprising retirement announcement. At the company's 18th-anniversary celebration in 2017, Ma surprised Alibaba employees by coming to the event dressed as Michael Jackson and danced along to the opening notes of his 1983 hit, "Billie Jean." It remains to be seen whether Ma -- or Zhang -- will make another surprise announcement this year, but here are five things to know as investors closely watch Alibaba's leadership transition.

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