Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, China's richest man, to retire

Devin Lawrence
September 8, 2018

While Ma sees himself as an accidental executive who only entered the business world with Alibaba's founding nearly 20 years ago, he has become one of China's most recognized corporate leaders.

Ma was Alibaba's chief executive until 2013, when he stepped down to become chairman.

Talking exclusively to The New York Times, Jack Ma said that his retirement will mark the beginning of a new era. Despite leaving day-to-day operations, Ma will remain on the board and mentor Alibaba's management.

The co-founder of $420the billion internet company, Jack Ma, has announced that he will be retiring from Alibaba on Monday. When asked if his retirement could happen as soon as this year, Ma smiled and said, "You'll know very soon". Ma, whose Chinese name is Ma Yun, said he might start a foundation of his own, like Bill Gates.

"This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba", he told Bloomberg TV recently.

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

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Ma, who turns 54 on Monday, now oversees a number of charitable projects in education and environmental fields.

Ma maintains a prominent worldwide profile, frequently inviting global leaders to the company's Hangzhou headquarters. Last year, he met U.S. President Donald Trump, who described him as "smart" and "open minded". The New York Times is blocked in China by Communist Party censors and there was no official statement from Alibaba on Saturday.

Ma is part of a generation of billionaire entrepreneurs who made their fortunes as China embraced the digital age, creating some of the country's largest and most successful companies in the space of little more than a decade. It was founded by 18 people, led by Ma, and now has more than 66,000 full-time employees, according to the company's latest annual filing. His own worth has soared along with that of the company, which was valued at $420.8 billion based on its share price at the close of trading on Friday.

Ma's retirement comes at an tough time for the Chinese tech industry.

Trade tensions also present a new challenge for Chinese tech firms, especially those like Alibaba which are expanding overseas rapidly.

Liu was arrested and then released without charge in the USA city of Minneapolis last week. Ant Financial has revenues of about $40 billion a year.

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