Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire from company

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire China's richest man Jack Ma will retire on Monday
Olivia Ford | 08 September, 2018, 16:12

Jack Ma has announced his plans to retire from his brainchild company, China's e-commerce giant Alibaba, the New York Times reports.

Ma's net worth is $39.9 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index.

Ma has thrived in the spotlight as he became a much sought-after guest for conferences around the world, even as tensions between China and the USA have risen over trade.

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, waves as he arrives at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, US, September 19, 2014. "His retirement will be interpreted as frustration or concern whether he likes it or not".

In an interview, Ma said his retirement is not the end of an era but "the beginning of an era". He said the reason he's leaving is to pursue philanthropic endeavors focused on education.

"I'm sure he'll be just as involved as he has been in his chairman role, even if he doesn't have the formal title", said Carter.

It remains unclear whether Alibaba will appoint a new chairman after Ma formally retires from the company on Monday. Alibaba is China's largest corporation and, with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, is now valued at $420 billion. It is still reeling from allegations of rape against Amazon rival JD.com's chief executive Richard Liu. For Chinese tycoons to step aside in their 50s is rare; they usually remain at the top of their organisations for many years.

News of the executive's departure comes amid a tumultuous period the industry.

Liu was arrested and then released without charge in the USA city of Minneapolis last week.

He started Alibaba.com in 1999 as a business-to-business marketplace, backed by $60,000 from 18 co-founders. He owns a 6.4 percent stake of Alibaba, according to securities filings, but has considerably more sway over the company thanks to its complicated legal structure.

He co-founded the company with 17 other people, some of whom were his students, out of his apartment in Hangzhou in eastern Zhejiang province. It's also one of the largest payment processors, with its Alipay service (now Ant Financial) relying on 2D code linked to bank accounts to allow retailers to accept electronic payments.

He is one of the most colourful of China's growing crop of billionaires, performing a Michael Jackson-inspired dance routine at the company's 18th anniversary celebration previous year, and starring in his own kung fu short film. Numerous co-founders are still around, and professionals who joined the company later are now in charge. But under his guidance, the Alibaba Group has become one of China's largest technology conglomerates.

Notably, while Ma had stepped down as the Alibaba CEO nearly eight years back, he remained the face of the company at top political and business events and he played an important role in devising the company's long term strategy. But its efforts to muscle into the United States largely have not been successful. A year ago he met with US President Donald Trump, who described him as "smart" and "open minded".

Ma said he sees himself as an accidental executive.

More travelling is scheduled for the businessman, including a trip to Cape Town, where Ma has promised to fulfil his pledge to help South African President Cyril Ramaphosa set up a digital training centre to nurture entrepreneurship among the youth. "With political stability, social safety and 6 percent-plus economic growth, we have the best business environment".

Earlier this week, Mr Ma told Bloomberg TV that he wanted to create a personal foundation, following in the footsteps of Microsoft's Bill Gates. Ma's Weibo social media handle is "spokesman for village teachers - Jack Ma".

In an interview earlier this week, Ma had signaled that he was thinking about focusing more on philanthropy.

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