Alibaba co-founder and chairman Jack Ma, aged 55, has retired his position as chairman from the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on Tuesday.
Jack Ma had revealed last year that he planned to retire in 2019, and he is said to be celebrating the event with a party an Olympic-sized stadium in the company’s hometown of Hangzhou.
Former English teacher Ma has co-founded Alibaba in 1999, and under his stewardship it has become one of the world’s biggest e-commerce firms.
His decision to create a company in the 1990s was a risk, as at that time it was the norm in China for most companies to be state-owned enterprises.
His hard work (he believes staff should work 12 hour days, six days a week) has helped him become one of the world’s richest men, with a fortune worth approximately $38.6 billion.
Alibaba itself is worth $480bn.
The Alibaba co-founder is a Communist Party member, and he is known for having high-profile friends amongst China’s billionaire moguls and movie stars.
He also maintains a mandatory tai chi programme for staff at Alibaba and last starred in a short kung fu film alongside stars such as Jet Li.
Since stepping down as chief executive in 2013 he has focused on philanthropic causes and on promoting Alibaba abroad.
After leaving the company he is expected to devote his time to philanthropy and education.
Ma is retiring at the relatively young age of 55 years old, but he has always previously said he wanted to retire earlier than Bill Gates, who stepped down as chairman of Microsoft at the age of 58 in 2014.
Daniel Zhang, currently Alibaba’s chief executive, will replace him as executive chairman.
Ma was born to a poor family in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, and he only bought his first computer at the age of 33.
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