China's richest man to retire and focus on educational philanthropy

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Customers use its e-commerce platforms to order products that past year saw package deliveries reach 55 million a day.

In 1999, Jack Ma along with 17 others had founded Alibaba in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

The retirement makes Ma one of the first founders among a generation of prominent Chinese internet entrepreneurs to step down from their companies.

Alibaba is active in sectors across the Chinese economy and has transformed many.

Ma, who turns 54 on Monday, oversees a number of charitable projects in education and environmental fields.

Ma is a man "who deftly maneuvered through the discontinuities and barriers in China to create one of the greatest companies in the world", as Tim Draper, founder of Draper Associates, DFJ, and Draper University said.

Ma stepped down as CEO of Alibaba in 2013.

"This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba", he told Bloomberg TV recently.

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Ma, 53, is also China's wealthiest individual. He cited the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as an example.

Alibaba's growth and Ma's wealth track changes in modern China, in which a burgeoning urban middle class has more money to spend while authorities allowed large accumulations of wealth, especially when connected to forward-thinking enterprises.

Jack Ma, who co-founded the world's largest e-commerce platform, will unveil a succession strategy next week, part of a management plan 10 years in the making for grooming a generation of younger executives to take over the reins of Asia's most valuable company.

Ma is stepping back at a tricky time for Chinese tech firms.

His retirement would mark "the beginning of an era" for him, one in which he could concentrate on charitable activities in education, a field close to his heart, he said in the interview.

Considered China's richest person, the e-commerce company's co-founder holds a spot in the world's top twenty billionaires in the world with a reported net worth of $39.9 billion. He was released and has since returned to Beijing, where JD.com is based.

Today, Alibaba's empire encompasses e-commerce, online banking, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment - and even a corporate messaging service similar to Slack.

Ma said he sees himself as an accidental executive. However, in contrast to the American magnate, he wants to "retire earlier".

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