Alibaba’s Jack Ma, China’s Richest Man, to Retire From Company He Co-Founded
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s co-founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma, will retire from the e-commerce company on Monday, as the former English teacher seeks to focus on philanthropy in education, the New York Times reported.
Mr. Ma is retiring as China’s business environment has soured, with Beijing and state-owned enterprises increasingly playing more interventionist roles with companies. Under President Xi Jinping, China’s internet industry has grown and become more important, prompting the government to tighten its leash. The Chinese economy is also facing slowing growth and increasing debt, and the country is embroiled in an escalating trade war with the United States.
“I love education”
In an interview, Mr. Ma said his retirement is not the end of an era but “the beginning of an era.” He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education. “I love education,” he said.
Ma, who turns 54 on Monday, currently oversees a number of charitable projects in education and environmental fields. He is a cult figure in China’s internet industry and has attracted a large following among entrepreneurs and in pop culture alike. At events he is often met with screaming fans.
Mr. Ma will remain on Alibaba’s board of directors and continue to mentor the company’s management. Mr. Ma turns 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China known as Teacher’s Day.
Ma also keeps a high international profile, frequently inviting global leaders to the company’s Hangzhou headquarters. Last year he met with U.S. President Donald Trump, who described him as “smart” and “open minded.”
Alibaba was founded by 18 people led by Ma. China’s biggest e-commerce firm, it now has more than 66,000 full-time employees, according to the company’s latest annual filing.
The Strategy of Succession Planning
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s co-founder Jack Ma will remain as executive chairman, and will unveil a succession strategy on Monday on his 54th birthday, South China Morning Post reported on Saturday, citing a company spokesman.
Ma will provide transition plans over a significant period of time, the spokesman was quoted as saying, adding that the succession strategy is part of a management plan 10 years in the making.
He is revered by many Chinese, some of whom have put his portrait in their homes to worship in the same way that they worship the God of Wealth.