Alibaba's Jack Ma 'to step down'

Alibaba's Jack Ma 'to step down'

Alibaba's Jack Ma 'to step down'

Ma graduated from the Hangzhou Teachers College with a major in English-language education, and went on to teach at another university in the city, where Alibaba is still headquartered.

Notably, while Ma had stepped down as the Alibaba CEO nearly eight years back, he remained the face of the company at top political and business events and he played an important role in devising the company's long term strategy.

He has mostly detached himself from operational matters and the daily management of his sprawling business empire since stepping down as chief executive officer in 2013, dedicating more of his time and wealth to philanthropy through the Jack Ma Foundation, following in the footsteps of Microsoft Corp's founder Bill Gates.

"When Jack Ma speaks longingly of retirement from Alibaba, there's no reason not to take him at his word", says Silvers.

Ma built the company into a multibillion-dollar internet colossus. When asked if his retirement could happen as soon as this year, Ma smiled and said, "You'll know very soon".

One of the world's richest men and a revered figure in his homeland of China, Mr Ma said it was "the beginning of an era, not the end".

After being knocked back by United States venture capitalists in 1999, a cash-strapped Ma persuaded friends to give him $60,000 to start Alibaba, which operated out of an apartment in Hangzhou.

Ma oversees a number of charitable projects in education and environmental fields.

At events, he is often met with screaming fans.

Ma is part of a generation of billionaire entrepreneurs who made their fortunes as China embraced the digital age, creating some of the country's largest and most successful companies in the space of little more than a decade.

Alibaba has been referred to as the Amazon of China.

The company had a market value of about $420 billion as of Friday.

Ma's retirement comes at an tough time for the Chinese tech industry.

Authorities have increasingly sought to regulate the industry where Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd 0700.HK are fighting a fierce battle for consumers.

Trade tensions also present a new challenge for Chinese tech firms, especially those like Alibaba which are rapidly expanding overseas.

Richard Liu, the billionaire founder of Alibaba's main competitor JD.com, was briefly arrested in the USA over a rape allegation last week.

The company's annual revenue totals about 250 billion yuan ($40 billion). Through his lawyers, he has denied any wrongdoing.

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