Two decades after he founded Alibaba, one of the world’s largest ecommerce giants, Executive Chairman, Jack Ma, has announced that he will retire.
In an interview with The New York Times, the 53-year-old Ma said he would focus his efforts on philanthropy, primarily in education which Ma said was his first passion in life.
Ma will remain on the board of directors of the Chinese e-commerce giant, which he has run since its founding in 1999 and has turned him into the wealthiest man in China.
Ma co-founded Alibaba with 17 others, some of who were his students, out of his apartment in Hangzhou. The company has since grown into a business empire doing business in the fields of e-commerce, online banking, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment.
The news of Ma’s departure is not a shock for many observers as steadily reduced his role at Alibaba over the past few years, stepping down as chief executive officer in 2013 while remaining heavily involved in the company’s strategic planning,
When talking with the Times, Ma referenced Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and the path he has followed in a post-tech career that has focused on philanthropy. Ma said his retirement is not the end of an era but “the beginning of an era,” that would allow him to focus on spending more of his time and fortune on issues that concern him.
The news will no doubt rock China’s internet industry, which recently reeled from the arrest of Liu Qiangdong, the billionaire founder of the online retailer JD.com, on allegations of rape in Minneapolis during a business trip.