Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma announces retirement

Screenshot via Bloomberg Screenshot via Bloomberg
Pete Mitchell | 08 September, 2018, 16:12

Jack Ma, the iconic Chinese entrepreneur, is making plans for a future after Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the company he co-founded and turned into Asia's most valuable company. He helped build it into a $420 billion company with more than 500 million Chinese customers who use the site to purchase everything from clothes to cement.

He retired as Alibaba's chief executive in 2013, eventually handing the reins to his protege Daniel Zhang, but he remained active within the company, providing strategic direction as chairman. Ma even believes that he can "do much better" at teaching than he did as CEO of Alibaba.

He is one of the most colorful of China's growing crop of billionaires, performing a Michael Jackson-inspired dance routine at the company's 18th anniversary celebration previous year, and starring in his own kung fu short film. Morley brought young Ma to Australia in 1985 for his first overseas trip, when he spent almost a month in Newcastle, an experience which the Chinese businessman said had "totally changed my future". He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education.

The charismatic co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, one of the world's biggest companies, has announced he is retiring.

"I sat down with our senior executives 10 years ago, and asked what Alibaba would do without me", Ma said in an interview with the South China Morning Post, which Alibaba owns.

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"There's a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates", he said.

Earlier this week, Mr Ma told Bloomberg TV that he wanted to create a personal foundation, following in the footsteps of Microsoft's Bill Gates. His net worth was estimated at $36.6 billion by Forbes.

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. The company has increased its presence outside China by investing in e-commerce and online finance companies in India and Southeast Asia. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier".

In 1999, Jack Ma along with 17 others had founded Alibaba in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. It is symbolically significant that his reported retirement coincides with Teachers' Day in China, and Ma used to teach English before becoming a business magnate.

"It's the system which I think I have contributed to along with my team and this will be able to make the company last long", Ma said.

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