China’s richest man Jack Ma to step down from Alibaba for ‘philanthropy’

08 September, 2018, 16:09 | Author: Julian Harrison
  • China's richest man Jack Ma will retire on Monday

Ma, one of China's best known corporate leaders, will remain on the company's board of directors and continue to mentor the company's management, the New York Times said on Friday.

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 told the newspaper that his retirement "is not the end of an era but "the beginning of an era".

Ma said he sees himself as an accidental executive. That contrasts with the tycoons of Asia, where 85 per cent of billionaires face a shift from first-generation founders to their successors, according to a 2016 UBS report that tracked 1,400 billionaires over 20 years. His net worth was estimated at $36.6 billion by Forbes.

In 2014, he created the Jack Ma Foundation, which has worked to improve education in rural China. "All these things that I've been preparing for 10 years", he said. He cited the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as an example.

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

Alibaba did not respond to requests for comment.




Mr Ma began his professional life teaching English at a university in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, in eastern Zhejiang province.

Alibaba group founder and CEO, Jack Ma.

With savvy deals and an investment from SoftBank Group Corp., it's now morphed into a behemoth that can make or break brands. Initially developed as a business-to-business e-commerce solution. His birthday also coincides with a the Chinese holiday of Teacher's Day, which celebrates educators. The business has more than 870 million users via payment system Alipay and its affiliates.

"The first time I used the internet, I touched on the keyboard and I find 'well, this is something I believe, it is something that is going to change the world and change China", Mr Ma once said in an interview.

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.

Ma's retirement puts more distance between Alibaba and one of its most visible and charismatic spokesmen.

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