Jack Ma leaves Alibaba with special farewell bottle

On the 20th-anniversary of Chinese online retailer Alibaba, chairman Jack Ma bid farewell to the company and gifted each employee with a bottle that swiftly went viral – and highly sought after – on Chinese social media.

After two decades of shaping Alibaba into China’s leading e-commerce enterprise, Jack Ma retired as executive chairman on 10 September, his 55th birthday and also the 20th anniversary party of the company in Hangzhou, Alibaba’s headquarters.

At the party, he officially handed the reins over to his successor Daniel Zhang, who has been the CEO of Alibaba since 2015. The company celebrated the occasion with 60,000 employees and a spectacular fireworks performance.

Each employee, including the interns, left the stadium with a “meaningful” present from the former chairman and within hours this special courtesy had swept through the social media.

It was a 20th anniversary giftbox with a bottle of rosé sparkling wine from Ma’s Bordeaux property Château de Sours. A limited volume of Mars Sours rosé is also now being sold on FreshHema, an online grocery shopping platform owned by Alibaba, at 688 yuan per bottle.

The most intriguing part of the gift was its packaging design. There is a slit on the side of the giftbox that is designed for inserting a phone that then scans a QR code.

The video playing in the phone is then projected on the bottle, where Ma shows up to give his final words of encouragement. He said in the message: “When studying winemaking I realised a truth: Work is like water, life is like wine. Water will influence the quality of the wine, but we should live our life with flavour like wine. Wishing everyone to live seriously, work happily.”

A video showing the QR code at work can be seen here.

As China’s second richest man, Ma purchased Chateau de Sours, an 85-hectare property in Bordeaux, back in 2016. In recent years, he has shown an increasingly keen interest in the wine industry. As well as engaging in winemaking, Alibaba has also established partnerships with important players in the industry, such as Vinexpo and Moët Hennessy, to boost the Chinese wine market via e-commerce.

In the open letter announcing his resignation last year, Ma said: “As for myself, I still have lots of dreams to pursue. Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle. I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things – because what if new dreams can be realised.”

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