Alibaba’s Jack Ma Exits SoftBank’s Board

George Paul · May 18, 2020
SoftBank
Editorial credit: Karol Ciesluk / Shutterstock.com

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group has announced that Alibaba Founder Jack Ma will leave the company’s Board of Directors on June 25. Ma has served on SoftBank’s Board of Directors since 2007.

SoftBank also announced its Chief Financial Officer Yoshimitsu Goto will join the company’s Board of Directors, pending approval at an annual shareholder meeting on June 25. Additionally, the company has proposed two new independent directors, Waseda Business School Professor Yuko Kawamoto and Cadence Design Systems CEO Lip-Bu Tan. Kawamoto would be the company’s first and only female board member.

SoftBank did not report a reason for Ma’s resignation, but CEO Masayoshi Son, said that Ma had decided to leave SoftBank’s Board of Directors “on his own,” according to CNBC.

Ma has recently begun to scale back his involvement in business ventures in favor of his philanthropic efforts. Last year, he resigned as the Chairman of Alibaba, and this year he is expected to step down from Alibaba’s Board of Directors. Ma, a former teacher, established the Jack Ma Foundation in 2014 and has championed initiatives focused on improving education, public health, women's leadership, and the environment.

The loss of Ma’s guidance is a major setback for SoftBank, which is coming off a disappointing financial year. In SoftBank’s financial year ended March 31, 2020, the company’s Vision Fund lost $18 billion, while SoftBank as a whole lost $13 billion. Ma’s exit from SoftBank is the second recent high-profile departure for the company, as Tadashi Yanai, the founder of clothing brand Uniqlo and its parent company Fast Retailing, stepped down from SoftBank’s Board of Directors in late December 2019.


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