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Today, Jack Ma announces his plan to retire as Alibaba chairman after 23 years at the e-commerce giant. The Hustle Sponsored by Jack Ma, founder of $420B Alibaba, announces his retirement ‘succession plan’ Today, on his 54th birthday, Alibaba founder...
By: Wes Schlagenhauf
September 10, 2018
Today, Jack Ma announces his plan to retire as Alibaba chairman after 23 years at the e-commerce giant.
Jack Ma, founder of $420B Alibaba, announces his retirement ‘succession plan’
Today, on his 54th birthday, Alibaba founder Jack Ma will announce a “succession plan” to kick off his gradual retirement.
After paving the way for an era of Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, and JD.com, Ma plans to leave his $420B company to return to his lifelong passion for education. But, Ma is also stepping away from ’Baba in a time of turmoil for China’s private sector.
From humble teacher to China’s baddest businessman
Ma began his career as an English teacher. But, when his online search for “beer” and “China” in 1995 yielded no results, he put his textbooks on the shelf to pursue a higher calling: Fixing the internet.
By expanding Alibaba from e-commerce to banking, cloud computing, digital media, and software, Ma built one of the 5 largest internet companies in the world. And to make it happen, he had to convince the Chinese government of the internet’s value.
A tech empire built on politics, not programming
Unlike other tech companies, Alibaba’s early obstacles were political, not technical. So Ma -- who says he doesn’t really understand technology -- led Alibaba as a charismatic politician, not a technical businessman.
Ma adopted a philosophy of “loving the government, but not marrying them” to grow Alibaba under the good graces of the government. With the government’s blessing, Alibaba now pulls in $40B in annual revenue.
But as Alibaba has grown, government has fought to stay involved -- and thanks to the US-China trade war, Alibaba now feels more regulatory heat than ever.
Can Alibaba survive without Ma’s magic?
Ma has planned his departure for more than 10 years, but despite scaling back responsibility in 2013 by transitioning from CEO to executive chairman, Ma still manages many of Alibaba’s government relationships -- making his exit challenging.
In spite of the New York Timesreport that Ma will retire immediately, Alibaba reps insist that Ma will pass off the reins slowly and remain chairman in transition -- calling the NYT report “factually wrong.”
Ma is expected to outline his “succession plan” in greater detail today.
Bye bye ’Baba
New Hoverwheel stokes old grudge match
Shane Chen, the inventor of the popular “two-wheel, self-balancing rideable” (AKA, hoverboard), has a new deathtrap on the market: the Hoverwheel.
In 2013, Chen filed a patent for “self-balancing vehicle” on behalf of his company Inventist. But since 2015, The Verge reports, Inventist has been in the midst of a legal battle with lean-n-scoot OG, Segway.
Segway claims that Inventist infringed on their patent for “balancing vehicles” and leapfrogged on their technology either knowingly or “with willful blindness.” In the meantime, Inventist has fought off its own rivals like fellow hoverboard-maker Swagway.
When in doubt, skate it out
But, perhaps in another example of “willful blindness,” Inventist has added insult to injury with their latest product.
This new hover-transport is a freewheeling take on their old classic, featuring separate, motorized skates… and it looks an awful lot like Segway’s attempt at ‘e-skates’.
Walmart faces an epic fail in quest in sell premium outdoor brands
A few weeks back, Walmart launched a new online “Premium Outdoor Store” curated by the outdoor retailer Moosejaw (which was acquired by the mega-chain for $51m last February).
Turns out there was a little issue with that: According to the WSJ, a hefty chunk of the brands featured in Walmart’s new store want nothing to do with the mega-retailer.
The Great $100 Hiking Pole Rebellion of ’18
Shortly after Walmart debuted its new high-end outdoor gear store, a number of the featured brands — including the likes of Deuter (maker of $250 backpacks) and Leki ($100 hiking poles) — requested removal.
Reportedly, about one-third of the outdoor retailers wrote to Walmart to be taken off the site, and nearly all demands were accepted.
Most brands expressed concern that Walmart.com would eventually “push product prices lower...”
Which is a common occurrence in online retail
Brands sell their wares for what’s called a minimum advertised price (MAP), or simply the lowest price at which they’re willing to sell an item.
On huge e-commerce sites like Amazon, a lot of third-party sellers usually pop up, sparking fierce competition and driving prices far below the MAP.
Amazon has been terrible at policing these violations; Walmart has promised they will. They apparently still haven’t earned the trust of premium outdoor brands.
What we’re seeing here is a parable of the battle between high-end brands and online retailers. Brands want to sell through big platforms while maintaining high prices — but retailers like Walmart are forced to keep prices low while also fiercely competing with Amazon.
After announcing its IPO, Robinhood must find a CFO before big banks catch up
Robinhood, the free stock trading application and crypto exchange, announced plans to go public.
Now, as the $5.6B startup prepares for its public debut, it has some tidying up to do -- including hiring a CFO to handle finances and the SEC.
The people love Robinhood
When Robinhood was founded in 2013, skeptics doubted the company could get off the ground without charging fees for stock trades.
Turns out, they were wrong. The user-friendly platform attracted users by the millions, and the 5-year-old company now has 5m users, 2x as many as 36-year-old rival E*Trade (which has 4k employees to Robinhood’s 250).
Long on liquidity, light on leadership
Reassured by Robinhood’s 3 revenue streams -- interest earned on customer cash, “order flow” sold to stock exchanges to keep money moving, and “Gold” tier subscriptions priced at $10 to $200 -- investors dumped $539m into the startup.
And, although Robinhood was one of the first to drive down the personal finance ‘free’-way, these days it’s bumper-to-bumper. Last month, JPMorgan Chase rolled out a free online stock trading platform, departing sharply from the $24.95 it previously charged per trade.
To maintain its lead, Robinhood added 250 global stocks to its roster earlier this month and is in talks to acquire banking licenses that will ward off big bank competitors.
Torch turns managerial coal into exec-quality diamonds with data and coaching
Through his career in leadership training, Cameron Yarbrough discovered a pattern: the companies that need leadership coaching the most, can’t afford it.
It’s growth-curve robbery -- the going price for top coaches can fetch as much as $7k/month. Simply put, emerging leaders don’t have access to the training and resources they need to improve themselves.
So Cameron, a serial entrepreneur, started Torch to bring scalable leadership coaching to fast-moving companies.
The support lifeline you’ve been waiting for
Torch uses a blend of software, analytics, and real-life coaching to help leaders like you -- don’t blush -- reach their full potential. How?
First, you take the Torch Leadership Assessment, which includes getting to know you and your goals, as well as gathering 360 feedback from your peers. With that data, Torch outlines your strengths -- and challenges.
Then, Torch pairs you with a personal coach from their bench of take-no-namers. They’ll work with you to create a personalized plan focused on 3 core leadership dimensions: leadership, relationships, and influence.
And with Torch, there’s no participation trophy at the end -- just hard data. Torch’s platform tracks and measures your progress so you can see the impact of their program.
Move fast and manage well with Torch. Click below to request a demo -- yes, a real human will contact you.
We’ve got flies buzzing around, a couple little mice that come out from hiding right around 4:30pm, and our friend Neville figured out the office door code so now he swings by whenever he wants (just kidding, Neville).
At first, the Stuart Littles weren’t so bad. They’re actually kind of cute and tend not to bother you too much. Then, “evidence” of their presence started showing up around our keyboards and that was that -- exterminator called.
Flies, on the other hand, deserve no sympathy.
We’ve tried apple cider vinegar and dish soap, but it’s just not cutting it (maybe we should’ve tried honey?). So, we need your help. Have a sure-fire “debugging” method, or just a pest problem you want to commiserate with us about? Hit reply and tell us.
In the meantime, we’ll do our best to deal with all the little nasty things that pop up out of nowhere while staying focused on what matters and move onto more interesting Monday Morning Review topics. Please send help.
-- John, Sr. Director of Janitorial Philosophy
Hurt Feelings, Mac Miller. Surprise, delight, and self-reflection around every corner of this album. Pittsburgh lost a good one.