TOKYO -- Alibaba Group bids farewell to its 56-year-old founder on Wednesday as Jack Ma, the English teacher-turned-entrepreneur, officially steps down from the board of the Chinese e-commerce giant.
From humble beginnings in 1999, Alibaba has grown into an online juggernaut with annual sales events that regularly smash global records. That dizzying success owes much to the flamboyant Ma, who became the face of not only Alibaba but also of Chinese entrepreneurship.
Here are some of the most memorable moments of his career.
Ma speaks at a news conference announcing Alibaba's strategic partnership with U.S. peer Yahoo in Beijing in August 2005. In the background is a photo of Ma with Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang at China's Great Wall.
Yahoo Chief Operating Officer Daniel Rosensweig, right, joins Ma in announcing the American company's $1 billion investment in Alibaba in 2005. The deal gave Yahoo a 40% stake in the Chinese company.
Ma and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son pose at a news conference in Hangzhou, China in May 2010. Alibaba's Taobao marketplace and Yahoo! Japan announced plans to launch two online platforms to cross-sell into each others' markets.
Ma rings the ceremonial bell at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate Alibaba's initial public offering under the ticker BABA on Sept. 19, 2014. The company's shares surged more than 40% in their first day of trading. Five years later, Alibaba made a secondary listing in Hong Kong.
Ma speaks at Alibaba' Singles Day global shopping event in Shenzhen on Nov. 11, 2016. What started out as a tongue-in-cheek way for those not in a relationship to celebrate their single status has since grown into the world's biggest online shopping event.
Ma joins U.S. President Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York on Jan. 9, 2017.
Ma performs at the Yunqi Music Festival, held as part of the Computing Conference 2017 in Hangzhou Yunqi Cloud Town on Oct. 11, 2017. Ma often indulged his rock star side, once even dressing up and performing as Michael Jackson at a company gala.
Ma and Tencent CEO Pony Ma attend the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec. 18, 2018. Ma's membership in the Chinese Communist Party came to light the month before.
Ma attends Alibaba's 20th anniversary party at a stadium in Hangzhou, China on Sept. 10, 2019. During the event, Ma -- who had led the company since its founding -- relinquished his role as chairman and passed the baton to CEO Daniel Zhang.