China's richest man to retire and focus on educational philanthropy

2018 Alibaba Xin Philanthropy Conference

"When Jack Ma speaks longingly of retirement from Alibaba, there's no reason not to take him at his word", says Silvers. Ma told Bloomberg earlier this week that he wanted to dedicate more of his time and fortune to philanthropy with the creation of a foundation in his own name focused on education, following in the footsteps of fellow billionaire Bill Gates.

"This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba", he told Bloomberg TV recently.

"I sat down with our senior executives 10 years ago, and asked what Alibaba would do without me", Ma said in an interview with the South China Morning Post, which Alibaba owns. The company had a market value of around $420 billion as of Friday. "The first time I used the internet, I touched on the keyboard and I find 'well, this is something I believe, it is something that is going to change the world and change China, '" Ma once told U.S. broadcaster CNN. 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".

He now has a net worth of about $39 billion, Forbes estimated, making him the second-richest person in China and the 20th-richest in the world.

Alibaba Group is a Chinese multinational holding conglomerate specialising in e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology. It is symbolically significant that his reported retirement coincides with Teachers' Day in China, and Ma used to teach English before becoming a business magnate.

For Alibaba, Ma's retirement completes a transition of power to other executives.

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

Today, Alibaba's empire encompasses e-commerce, online banking, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment - and even a corporate messaging service similar to Slack. Initially developed as a business-to-business e-commerce solution.

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. It is still reeling from allegations of rape against Amazon rival JD.com's chief executive Richard Liu.

Beijing has announced plans to regulate the country's highly popular video game industry, including restrictions on the number of new releases to address concerns over children's eyesight and gaming addiction.

Ma is retiring at a time internet companies like Alibaba have fallen under tighter government scrutiny, as the industry plays an increasingly important role in the country's economy.

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