The man behind the successful company, Alibaba and China’s richest individual is reportedly retiring from his position as executive chairman.
Jack Ma, co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, is stepping down at a time when the Chinese business environment has rapidly soured and boomed.
Ma, said he planned to step down from the Chinese e-commerce giant on Monday to pursue philanthropy in education, a changing of the guard for the $420 billion internet company.
Mr. Ma is a former English teacher and started Alibaba in 1999 and built it into one of the world’s most consequential e-commerce and digital payments companies, transforming how Chinese people shop and pay for things.
With this incredible journey and success in corporate and business world it fueled his net worth to more than $40 billion, making him China’s richest man.
He is revered by many Chinese, some of whom have put his portrait in their homes to worship in the same way that they worship the God of Wealth.
The Chinese businessman retirement comes amid the booming of China’s business environment, with Beijing and state-owned enterprises increasingly playing more interventionist roles with companies.
Under President Xi Jinping’s leadership, China’s internet industry has grown and become more important, prompting the government to tighten its leash.
The Chinese economy is also facing slowing growth and increasing debt, and the country is embroiled in an escalating trade war with the United States.
“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 Mr. Ma.
“His retirement will be interpreted as frustration or concern whether he likes it or not,” Clark quoted.
In an interview, Ma said his retirement is not the end of an era but “the beginning of an era.” He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education. “I love education,” he said.
Also, Ma will remain on Alibaba’s board of directors and continue to mentor the company’s management.
He turns 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China known as Teacher’s Day.