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Chinese billionaire Jack Ma reportedly retiring from Alibaba on Monday

08 September, 2018, 19:10 | Author: Sara Gill
  • Screenshot via Bloomberg

But the company's chairman is now retiring, telling The New York Times that he plans to step down on Monday - his 54th birthday - to devote his time to philanthropy focused on education.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mr Ma has a net worth of about $40bn (£30.96bn). He is a cult figure in China's internet industry and has attracted a big following among entrepreneurs and in pop culture.

Alibaba Group is a Chinese multinational holding conglomerate specialising in e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology. "I've prepared a Jack Ma Foundation", Ma said. "His retirement will be interpreted as frustration or concern whether he likes it or not".

Ever the drama creators, other outlets were quick to say Ma is trying to one-up Gates. He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education.

He said: "There's a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates".

Jack Ma, who co-founded the world's largest e-commerce platform, will unveil a succession strategy next week, part of a management plan 10 years in the making for grooming a generation of younger executives to take over the reins of Asia's most valuable company.

Richard Liu, the billionaire founder of Alibaba's main competitor JD.com, was briefly arrested in the United States over a rape allegation last week.

Beijing has announced plans to regulate the country's highly popular video game industry, including restrictions on the number of new releases to address concerns over children's eyesight and gaming addiction.


Liu was arrested and then released without charge in the US city of Minneapolis last week.

Ma is now the chairman and co-founder of the e-commerce giant. He owns a 6.4 percent stake of Alibaba, according to securities filings, but has considerably more sway over the company thanks to its complicated legal structure.

Ma was born into a poor family in the city of Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province.

Alibaba started as a business-to-business marketplace, but had enormous growth when it started selling to consumers. Alibaba later rolled out Alipay, an online payment service, to facilitate transactions in a country where few people had credit cards. Ma also controls Ant Financial, which was valued at about $150 billion after a recent fundraising round. It grew into one of the world's largest online retailers, earning it comparisons to USA -based Amazon.

Succession planning for a company barely out of its teens underscores its founders' commitment of handing down a corporate structure that can outlast them.

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.

While Alibaba has become dominant in China, it has faced a tougher time expanding internationally.

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