Published: Sat, September 08, 2018
Electronics | By Shannon Stone

Jack Ma, Alibaba co-founder and China’s richest man, announces retirement

Jack Ma, Alibaba co-founder and China’s richest man, announces retirement

This will be a big change of guard for the $420 billion dollar Chinese internet company. The Chinese billionaire who had randomly announced his retirement added that he will continue to mentor Alibaba's management. Ma turns 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China known as Teacher's Day.

Ma recognized an opportunity in 1999 to play matchmaker for small and medium-size Chinese manufacturers, which lacked access to other businesses around the globe that were looking for products as varied as bamboo toothpicks, bath towels and machine tools.

He has told the New York Times that he will now focus on philanthropy in education. He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education.

"I've prepared a Jack Ma Foundation".

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

Alibaba started as a business-to-business marketplace, but had enormous growth when it started selling to consumers.

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.

On one hand, Chinese tech companies are facing increased scrutiny by the Chinese government led by President Xi Jinping, on the other hand, the tech firms are caught in an escalating trade war between the USA and China.

Huge conglomerates like Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JD.com are to China what Facebook and Google are to the United States. Ma's Weibo social media handle is "spokesman for village teachers - Jack Ma". Ma stepped down as Alibaba's chief executive in 2013, but remained executive chairman.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV this week, Ma signalled he was thinking about focusing more on philanthropy. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", he said. He cited Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as an example.

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