Alibaba’s Jack Ma To Retire To Focus on Philanthropy

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He helped build it into a $420 billion company with more than 500 million Chinese customers who use the site to purchase everything from clothes to cement. According to the paper current CEO Daniel Zhang is a "candidate" to replace Ma, who plans to pursue philanthropy in education.

Jack Ma was a cash-strapped Chinese entrepreneur and former English teacher when he convinced friends to give him $60,000 to start a Chinese e-commerce firm called Alibaba in 1999.

In an interview with The New York Times, Ma said it was time for him to focus on his first passion: education. Ma turns 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China known as Teacher's Day.

Ma told The New York Times that he will retire September 10 and focus on philanthropic efforts in education.

Alibaba has one of the strongest management teams in corporate China and, even if he steps down, Ma is likely to still have a role in setting top level strategy, said Brock Silvers, managing director of Kaiyuan Capital. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", he said.

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It owns a stake in China's hugely popular Twitter-like Weibo platform and in 2015 it bought the South China Morning Post newspaper.

It transformed how Chinese people shop and pay for things, especially through the now ubiquitous Alipay digital payment service.

As he prepares to leave the company, Ma is among China's super rich. According to Chinese media outlets, he belongs to a family which used to get just U.S. $ 40 each month to take care of its needs.Yet, Ma managed to graduate from Hangzhou Teachers College with a major in English-language education. Initially developed as a business-to-business e-commerce solution.

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

Ma is following a similar path as Bill Gates, who has dedicated himself to philanthropy after retirement, and has cited Microsoft's co-founder as an inspiration in an interview with Bloomberg TV recently.

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