One of China’s richest man and Alibaba’s co-founder, Jack Ma has announced retirement and will step down as executive chairman of the Alibaba e-commerce empire on Monday (Sep 10). He will pursue philanthropy in education but will remain on Alibaba’s board of directors.
Before starting Alibaba in 1999 Ma was an English teacher, he faced a number of rejections for getting a job. At KFC, 24 people applied for the job, says Ma, and while 23 were hired he wasn the only one to not get an opportunity to work for them.
Ma spoke to the New York Times and shared his plans to step down from the company on his 54th birthday – and called his departure as “the beginning of an era” rather than an end. Alibaba hasn’t commented on this as of now.
Interestingly, Ma’s retirement is taking place at a very tricky time as the Chinese government is looking to regulate the industry where Alibaba and Tencent are giving a tough competition for the country’s consumers. The Chinese economy is also facing slowing growth and increasing debt because of the trade war with the United States. Recently, Alibaba reported a 60% increase in quarterly sales, even as profits fell. The annual revenue of Alibaba group is was around $40 billion.
Alibaba was founded by 18 people led by Ma, the company now has more than 66,000 full-time employees. It started as an online marketplace for businesses to sell their products to other businesses. Later Alipay was launched to facilitate transactions as very few people had credit cards. Alipay later became Ant Financial, which values around $150 billion after a recent fundraising round.
In addition to these, Alibaba’s empire includes online banking, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment. The company also holds stakes in some of China’s most important media assets, including the very-famous social media site Weibo and the Hong Kong-based English-language newspaper The South China Morning Post. In 2014, Ma created the Jack Ma Foundation, which works on improving education in rural China.