China’s richest man Jack Ma to retire from Alibaba on his birthday

08 September, 2018, 19:12 | Author: Sally Reid
  • 2018 Alibaba Xin Philanthropy Conference

Jack Ma, the co-founder of Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, announced Saturday that he is stepping down as the company's executive chairman. "All these things that I've been preparing for 10 years".

Ma's Bloomberg interview came as shares of China's second-largest e-commerce company, JD.com, plummeted as its CEO Li Qiangdong was arrested in the United States over an accusation of rape.

He has told the New York Times that he will now focus on philanthropy in education. In 1999, Jack Ma along with 17 others had founded Alibaba in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

Ma started his journey with just U.S. $ 60,000 - loaned to him by friends, and started Alibaba in 1999.

Known as Ma Yun in mainland China, he is scheduled to be in Russia next week to formalise Alibaba's venture with Mail.ru, the internet company owned by Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov and sovereign wealth fund Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

As per a Reuters report, while Ma's retirement marks a milestone in the company's history, analysts believe and industry insiders believe that it is highly unlikely that his involvement in the company will change significantly.

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

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Nearly two decades later, Alibaba is an internet juggernaut and Ma is among the world's richest men, with a net worth of more than $40 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Since handing off his CEO title to Daniel Zhang, Ma has spent 40 per cent of the year travelling the globe to preach about the virtues of globalisation and inter-connectedness, the potential of technology to improve lives, and about philanthropy.

Often compared to Amazon.com, Alibaba's parent company has e-commerce, online payment, banking, entertainment and cloud computing businesses.

But in an interview with Bloomberg TV broadcast on Friday, Ma indicated that he had plans to soon retire and that he wanted to follow Microsoft founder Bill Gates as one of the world's most prolific philanthropists.

Ma has inspired strong devotion among his employees and users, drawing comparisons with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs - although he practised a more open management style.

This year, regulators shot down a $1.2 billion bid for money transfer service Moneygram International Inc (MG.O) by Ant Financial on national security grounds, which the company said was related to "geopolitical" changes.

A devotee of tai chi, he has made references to Chinese martial arts in both business strategy and corporate culture.

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