Alibaba founder Jack Ma retiring to focus on philanthropy and education

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Ma, one of China's best known corporate leaders, will remain on the company's board of directors and continue to mentor its management, the New York Times said on Friday. 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".

Often compared to Amazon.com, Alibaba's parent company has e-commerce, online payment, banking, entertainment and cloud computing businesses.

Among China's biggest companies, Alibaba is viewed as one of the firms with the deepest ranks of management talent.

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

Ma's success was evident after Alibaba's Taobao bested eBay in China, forcing the USA auction site to largely withdraw from the country in 2006.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mr Ma has a net worth of about $40bn (£30.96bn). According to the paper current CEO Daniel Zhang is a "candidate" to replace Ma, who plans to pursue philanthropy in education. But Ma on Thursday told Bloomberg TV that he was mulling an early retirement similar to Bill Gates' early exit from Microsoft.

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Mr Ma told the New York Times that his decision to stand down was not the end of an era but "the beginning of an era" and that he "loved" education.

The retirement makes Ma one of the first founders among a generation of prominent Chinese internet entrepreneurs to step down from their companies. Ma will also speak at the company's investor's day in mid September. "This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba", he said.

As Beijing has increased its involvement in the private sector, Ma has shifted what he has said about China's government. "I've prepared a Jack Ma Foundation", Ma said.

A focus on education wouldn't surprise keen followers of Ma, who has spoken frequently of its importance to him and some of his shortcomings as a student, including failing China's national university exam twice.

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 past year, and starring in his own kung fu short film. "It should be a war against poverty, disease et cetera".

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