Alibaba’s Jack Ma to retire on Monday

Jennifer Ramirez
September 8, 2018

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.

Ma told The New York Times that he plans to step down from the company on Monday - his 54th birthday - referring to his departure as "the beginning of an era" rather than an end.

Earlier Friday, Ma said he could "retire earlier" during a conversation with Bloomberg about Bill Gates' career.

"I don't think it means that much, frankly".

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

As he prepares to leave the company, Ma is among China's richest men with a net worth estimated by Forbes at $38.6 billion.

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He retired as Alibaba's chief executive in 2013, eventually handing the reins to his protege Daniel Zhang, but he remained active within the company, providing strategic direction as chairman.

Ma was born into a poor family in the city of Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province. This will be a big change of guard for the $420 billion dollar Chinese internet company. "On a day-to-day basis, Alibaba shareholders probably have little to fear should the charismatic Ma pull back a bit further". 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.

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.

As Beijing has increased its involvement in the private sector, Ma has shifted what he has said about China's government. Apart from e-commerce, Alibaba also handles digital payments, online banking, cloud computing and digital media and entertainment, reported CNET.

"I've prepared a Jack Ma Foundation".

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. "I love education", he said. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", he said. He said the reason he's leaving is to pursue philanthropic endeavors focused on education.

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