Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire, focus on philanthropy

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

While Ma has been serving as Alibaba's executive chairman after handing the CEO title to David Zhang in 2013, the New York Times reports that Zhang is a candidate to take over his chairman duties.

Like Gates, he has created his own eponymous foundation - the Jack Ma Foundation - which he says will push his original calling: education.

The day Jack Ma will be stepping down, September 10, is also celebrated as Teacher's Day in China.

Ma recognized an opportunity in 1999 to play matchmaker for small and medium-size Chinese manufacturers, which lacked access to other businesses around the globe that were looking for products as varied as bamboo toothpicks, bath towels and machine tools. He said the reason he's leaving is to pursue philanthropic endeavors focused on education.

"I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier".

Alibaba started as a business-to-business marketplace, but had enormous growth when it started selling to consumers.

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Huge conglomerates like Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JD.com are to China what Facebook and Google are to the United States.

One of China's biggest tech titans is stepping down.

Born into a poor family in Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province, Ma became a university teacher but gave the job up after discovering the internet.

Ma, 53, is also China's wealthiest individual.

As Alibaba has flourished, Ma has talked many times about how he did not want to spend his whole life at the company, saying he would retire one day and go back to teaching. The company has increased its presence outside China by investing in e-commerce and online finance companies in India and Southeast Asia. Alibaba later rolled out Alipay, an online payment service, to facilitate transactions in a country where few people had credit cards.

Ma has inspired strong devotion among his employees and users, drawing comparisons with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs - although he practised a more open management style.

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