Alibaba founder Jack Ma has announced that he will step down from his company's chief executive post.
Ma sent an e-mail to employees today, saying that it was a "difficult decision," according to Reuters, which obtained a copy of the note. He said that while he will be stepping down as CEO, he will stay on at Alibaba as chairman of the company's board of directors.
Ma and Alibaba have yet to name a successor, though Ma said his replacement would be announced May 10. It seems likely, given the tone of the 48-year-old Ma's letter, that the replacement will be younger.
"It's not because I wanted to take things easy (though the job of Alibaba CEO is no easy task), it's because I see that Alibaba's young people have better, more brilliant dreams than mine, and they are more capable of building a future that belongs to them," Ma wrote to employees, according to Reuters.
Ma founded Alibaba in 1999. Since then, the online marketplace and e-commerce company has become one of the largest Internet firms in the world, with more than 25,000 employees. Alibaba operates primarily in China.
That Ma is ready to step down now comes as a surprise. At 48 years of age, he's young for a chief executive. However, in an interview with The New York Times, Ma said that he's "no longer young enough to run such a fast-growing business."
Still, he doesn't plan on going far. He told the Times that he plans on being "very active" in the chairman role.