Alibaba's Jack Ma, China's richest man, announces plans to retire

Alibaba's Jack Ma, China's richest man, announces plans to retire

Nearly 20 years after he founded Alibaba, the Amazon of China, Executive Chairman Jack Ma plans to retire to focus on philanthropy, according to a report.

Ma said the move will be "the beginning of an era" and revealed that he may now focus on education, which he "loves". The Times story was taken out of context and is factually wrong, the report quoted the spokesman as saying.

Ma, who worked as an English teacher before founding Alibaba, also told Bloomberg: "I think some day, and soon, I'll go back to teaching".

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

Alibaba is active in sectors across the Chinese economy and has transformed many.

Ma said he could never be as rich as Gates - but that he could retire earlier than Gates.

In retirement, Ma said he will focus his time-and money-on education.

He now has a net worth of about $39 billion, Forbes estimated, making him the second-richest person in China and the 20th-richest in the world.

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. He co-founded the Chinese internet retailer in 1999 and built it into an empire now worth $420 billion and making the former English teacher China's richest man worth about $40 billion.

Ma was born into a poor family in the city of Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province.

Ma also keeps a high worldwide profile, frequently inviting global leaders to the company's Hangzhou headquarters.

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, waves as he arrives at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, US, September 19, 2014.

"He's a symbol of the health of China's private sector and how high they can fly whether he likes it or not", Duncan Clark, author of the book "Alibaba: The House Jack Ma Built", said of Ma.

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

Ma is retiring at a time internet companies like Alibaba have fallen under tighter government scrutiny, as the industry plays an increasingly important role in the country's economy. "Anybody who knows me knows I embrace the future. This is a systematic plan". Apart from e-commerce, Alibaba also handles digital payments, online banking, cloud computing and digital media and entertainment, reported CNET.

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