Jack Ma will step down as the executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on September 10, 2019, the company said in a statement on Monday. Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang will succeed Ma as the chairperson of the board of Alibaba Group.

The statement said Ma will continue as executive chairman of the company over the next 12 months “to ensure a smooth transition” for Zhang’s succession. Ma will also complete his current term as a member of Alibaba Group’s board of directors until its annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020.

“This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organisational excellence and a culture of talent development,” Ma said in a letter to shareholders, employees and customers.

The former English teacher, who celebrates his 54th birthday on Monday, said he plans to continue his role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership. “ I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do.”

Last week, reports said Ma planned to step down on Monday. Ma had told The New York Times that his retirement was not the end of an era but “the beginning of an era.”

Ma co-founded the company with 17 other people, some of whom were his students, out of his apartment in Hangzhou in eastern Zhejiang province. Ma helped build it into a $420 billion company with more than 500 million Chinese customers. Apart from e-commerce, Alibaba also handles digital payments, online banking, cloud computing and digital media and entertainment, reported CNET.