POST TIME: 9 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma announces plans to retire

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma announces plans to retire

In this file photo taken on January 24, 2018, Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma speaks during the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, eastern Switzerland. AFP Photo

Alibaba's charismatic co-founder and chairman Jack Ma plans to retire from the Chinese e-commerce giant today to devote his time to philanthropy focused on education, he told the New York Times in an interview, reports AFP from Beiking.

Ma was an English teacher before starting Alibaba in 1999 and built it into a multibillion-dollar internet colossus, becoming one of the world's richest men and a revered figure in his homeland.

His own worth has soared along with that of the company, which has added cloud computing, films and e-payments to its growing portfolio and was valued at $420.8 billion when the stock market closed on Friday.

Ma told The New York Times that he plans to step down from the company on Monday -- his 54th birthday -- referring to his departure as "the beginning of an era" rather than an end.

Ma, who gave up the title of CEO in 2013, said he now planned to devote his time and fortune to education. He is among China's richest men with a net worth of around $40 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The way he chose to make the announcement was unusual. The New York Times is blocked in China by Communist Party censors and there was no official statement from Alibaba on Saturday.

Alibaba's press office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The firm posted a photo on social media on Saturday of Ma meeting with the chairman of the Moutai liquor company.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV released on Friday, Ma hinted at his retirement plans, saying he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, one of the world's most prolific philanthropists.

"There's a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates. I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier," he said.