A stadium packed with over 60,000 employees waving internet-connected flashing wristbands. Jack Ma in a bejeweled leather jacket sporting an orange guitar and singing to thunderous applause. Event hosts who arrived on center stage by hot air balloon.
Those are just a few of the scenes from Alibaba’s 20th anniversary celebration in Hangzhou, China, yesterday (Sept.10), which also marked co-founder Jack Ma’s 55th birthday—and his last day as company chairman. From today, CEO Daniel Zhang, credited with coming up with the idea for the company’s Singles’ Day shopping festival takes the role.
At a time when many Chinese residents, including many well-off middle class families, feel uncertain about the direction of China’s economy amid trade tensions with the US and surging food prices, the event was a chance to celebrate one of the Chinese economy’s most astonishing successes of the last 20 years, and the man who’s been the global face of the country’s technological rise.