Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Delia Walker
September 8, 2018

Ma, who is China's third-richest person with a net worth of $36.6 billion, according to Forbes magazine, was quoted by the NYT as saying that his retirement is not the end of an era, but "the beginning of an era".

Ma, 53, is also China's wealthiest individual.

While Ma's retirement from a formal role is a milestone, analysts and industry professionals say it is unlikely Ma's involvement will change significantly.

"A physical Alibaba headquarters is a key step in ensuring Australian businesses have the support and information they need to succeed in China and the rest of the world", Zhou said at the time.

"There are a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates".

If he were to leave the company he founded in a Hangzhou apartment, it would remain controlled by the partnership structure, which enables a group of executives at Alibaba and affiliates to decide on board nominations. Ma turns 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China known as Teacher's Day.

Ma's decision also comes as a US police investigation into an allegation of rape against Richard Liu, had of top rival Inc (JD.O), hammered its shares.

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

Liu was arrested and then released without charge in the US city of Minneapolis last week.

Ma, a former English teacher, co-founded Alibaba in 1999.

Since handing off his CEO title to Daniel Zhang, Ma has spent 40 per cent of the year travelling the globe to preach about the virtues of globalisation and inter-connectedness, the potential of technology to improve lives, and about philanthropy. Alibaba made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, which remains the largest initial public offering (IPO) in history.

Ma was born in September 1964 to Chinese traditional musician-storytellers living in Hangzhou, an ancient capital that's become a global high-tech hub and bastion of entrepreneurship, in part because of Alibaba's base there. Alibaba now also handles digital payments, online banking, cloud computing and digital media and entertainment.

On one hand, Chinese tech companies are facing increased scrutiny by the Chinese government led by President Xi Jinping, on the other hand, the tech firms are caught in an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China. Numerous co-founders are still around, and professionals who joined the company later are now in charge. Another Chinese internet giant, Tencent Holdings, which owns some of the biggest game franchises in the world, posted a rare drop in profits last month as it confronts tighter government regulations. Ant Financial has revenues of about $40 billion a year.

Alibaba has been referred to as the Amazon of China. Initially developed as a business-to-business e-commerce solution.

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