Jack Ma, the co-founder and executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has said he plans to step down from his position on Monday, reported The New York Times on Friday.
Ma said his retirement is not the end of an era but “the beginning of an era.” He said he will be spending more of his time and fortune to pursue philanthropy in education. “I love education,” he said. Ma will remain on Alibaba’s board of directors and continue to mentor the company’s management.
Ma was an English teacher before starting Alibaba in 1999. He turns 54 on Monday, which is a holiday in China known as Teacher’s Day, reported AFP.
He co-founded the company with 17 other people, some of whom were his students, out of his apartment in Hangzhou in eastern Zhejiang province. Ma helped build it into a $420 billion company with more than 500 million Chinese customers. Apart from e-commerce, Alibaba also handles digital payments, online banking, cloud computing and digital media and entertainment, reported CNET.
Over the course of his tenure, Ma has also become China’s richest man with a net worth of more than $40 billion.
Last month, Alibaba reported a 60% increase in quarterly sales, even as profits fell. The company’s annual revenue totals about 250 billion yuan, or $40 billion.
“The first time I used the internet, I touched on the keyboard and I find [sic] ‘well, this is something I believe....it is something that is going to change the world and change China’,” Ma told CNN in 2006.