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Alibaba's Jack Ma 'to step down and focus on philanthropy'

08 September, 2018, 13:15 | Author: Lydia Fleming
  • Alibaba Group co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong

He co-founded the Chinese internet retailer in 1999 and built it into an empire now worth $420 billion and making the former English teacher China's richest man worth about $40 billion. Ma will remain on Alibaba's board of directors and continue to mentor the company's management.

In retirement, Ma said he will focus his time-and money-on education. Ma turns 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China known as Teacher's Day.

Ma, who founded the company back in 1999, stepped down as the company's chief executive officer in 2013.

Ma told the newspaper that his retirement "is not the end of an era but "the beginning of an era". He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education. However, in contrast to the American magnate, he wants to "retire earlier". He started Alibaba from his flat in Hangzhou with a group of friends. Firms including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JD.com have flourished in recent years, growing to almost rival American internet behemoths like Amazon and Google in their size, scope and ambition. Alibaba later rolled out Alipay, an online payment service, to facilitate transactions in a country where few people had credit cards.


Ma is the first of his generation of superwealthy tech CEOs to retire, an unusual move in a country where successful business leaders often run their empires well into their 80s - Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing only retired in May at the age of 89.

Earlier this week, Mr Ma told Bloomberg TV that he wanted to create a personal foundation, following in the footsteps of Microsoft's Bill Gates.

Born into a poor family in Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province, Ma became a university teacher but gave the job up after discovering the internet.

He is one of the most colorful of China's growing crop of billionaires, performing a Michael Jackson-inspired dance routine at the company's 18th anniversary celebration a year ago, and starring in his own kung fu short film. Apart from e-commerce, Alibaba also handles digital payments, online banking, cloud computing and digital media and entertainment, reported CNET.

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