Crowds were on hand to cheer as Alibaba's PR machine arranged for Ma to return to the apartment complex in Hangzhou where he first started the company, allowing him to explore the business' founding mythology.
The billionaire, who announced his retirement as chairman of the company last September, fulfilled his pledge to step down on his 55th birthday on Tuesday.
"I think it will be very hard to replace somebody like Jack Ma", Rebecca Fannin, author of a book on China's technology titans, said. Last year, he officially announced his plan to resign in a letter to customers, employees and shareholders.More news: Curtin research reveals tsunami followed dinosaur-killing asteroid
While it remains to be seen how Alibaba will be steered by Zhang, Tuesday's extravaganza promises to offer a spectacle and possibly a final opportunity for Ma to display showmanship.
Ma plans to put his vast fortune into philanthropic efforts for education.
Jack Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 as an e-commerce company and expanded it into a conglomerate that runs businesses ranging from logistics, food delivery to cloud computing. "No company can rely exclusively on its founders". But even though it's been on the calendar for 12 months, the departure of China's most famous businessperson and its richest man from the head of the company he founded has still been prominent in the news cycle and social media conversation today.More news: The United States of America wins The 47th Walker Cup match
"I sat down with our senior executives 10 years ago, and asked what Alibaba would do without me", Ma had said in an interview with the Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post. It is on a USA list of "notorious markets" for goods that infringe on American intellectual property, a main source of friction in an escalating trade war between Beijing and Washington. He did so in a statement, shared by Alibaba's news outlet Alizila.
Costumed performers, some dancing to dubstep music and wearing damaged-down Chinese costume, and singers paid tribute to Mr Ma's recognition for dressing up and performing at paunchy occasions, entering to a parade of floats representing Alibaba divisions equivalent to browsing site Tmall and cost carrier Ant Monetary. There are many places I want to go visit, to challenge. The Chinese entrance exams are held only once a year and Ma took four years to pass. Ma attended Hangzhou Teacher's Institute (currently known as Hangzhou Normal University) and graduated in 1988 with a BA in English.
Alibaba says its revenue rose 42 percent over a year earlier in the quarter ending in June to $16.7 billion and profit rose 145 percent to $3.1 billion.More news: More than 100 Australian bushfires ‘omen’ of severe summer fire season
The company's $25 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014 was the biggest to date by a Chinese company.