Alibaba’s co-founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma, said he planned to step down from the Chinese e-commerce giant on Monday to pursue philanthropy in education, a changing of the guard for the $420 billion internet company.
A former English teacher, Ma started Alibaba in 1999 and built it into one of the world’s most consequential e-commerce and digital payments companies, transforming how Chinese people shop and pay for things.
That fuelled his net worth to more than $40 billion, making him China’s richest man.
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.
Ma is retiring as China’s business environment has soured, with Beijing and state-owned enterprises increasingly playing more interventionist roles with companies.
Ma will remain on Alibaba’s board of directors and continue to mentor the company’s management.