Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire, focus on philanthropy

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Alibaba has not said who will succeed Ma as executive chairman; he will remain on its board of directors.

The charismatic Ma told the Times that he plans to retire on Monday, at the age of 54, saying this marks "the beginning of a new era". But Ma on Thursday told Bloomberg TV that he was mulling an early retirement similar to Bill Gates' early exit from Microsoft.

Ma, who boasts a net worth of almost $40 billion(€34 billion), making him China's richest man, said he would use his retirement to focus on his philanthropic work, mainly around education.

But Jack Ma's connection to Australia goes much deeper thanks to his friendship with the late Ken Morley, a local electrical engineer, who helped Ma on his journey from a poor youth to e-commerce tycoon.

Over the course of his tenure, Ma has also become China's richest man with a net worth of more than $40 billion. Ma established the Jack Ma Foundation in 2014, which fosters education for those in rural China, and has professed his love of education.

The company had a market value of about $420 billion as of Friday's close.

Ma's departure is sure to leave an impression, perhaps one that is larger than the one he made during the years he led Alibaba.

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Alibaba group founder and CEO, Jack Ma.

Alibaba's sprawling businesses are now managed by a dozen senior managers: Zhang as CEO; Simon Hu is president of the cloud computing business; Trudy Dai runs the business-to-business e-commerce marketplace; Yang Weidong manages digital media and entertainment; Jiang Fan runs Taobao, while Jet Jing runs Tmall.

Ma said he sees himself as an accidental executive.

Its customers use its e-commerce platforms to order products that past year led to package reaching 55-million a day.

"A physical Alibaba headquarters is a key step in ensuring Australian businesses have the support and information they need to succeed in China and the rest of the world", Zhou said at the time.

"I am very thankful for Australia and the time I spent there in my youth", Ma said during his visit.

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. However, in contrast to the American magnate, he wants to "retire earlier".

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