Alibaba's Jack Ma 'to step down and focus on philanthropy'

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Alibaba co-founder and chairman Jack Ma plans to retire from the Chinese e-commerce giant on Monday to devote his time to philanthropy focused on education, he told The New York Times in an interview. Ma helped build it into a $420 billion company with more than 500 million Chinese customers. Ma stepped down as Alibaba's chief executive in 2013; the company's current chief executive is Daniel Zhang, who is a candidate to succeed Ma.

Its customers use its e-commerce platforms to order products that a year ago led to package reaching 55-million a day.

As Alibaba has flourished, Ma has talked many times about how he did not want to spend his whole life at the company, saying he would retire one day and go back to teaching. He now has a net worth of more than $40 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

"People in China and America, one thing we have in common is the heart of love and respect", Ma said. "All these things that I've been preparing for 10 years".

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Seeing an opportunity for small businesses to buy and sell their goods online, he started Alibaba, initially running the company out of his apartment in the eastern city of Hangzhou, where the company's headquarters remains.

Alibaba has been referred to as the Amazon of China.

He will remain on Alibaba's board of directors but focus on philanthropy in education, the newspaper said.

"The first time I used the internet, I touched on the keyboard and I find [sic] "well, this is something I believe.it is something that is going to change the world and change China", Ma told CNN in 2006.

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Ma has inspired strong devotion among his employees and users, drawing comparisons with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs - although he practiced a more open management style.

A devotee of tai chi, he has made references to Chinese martial arts in both business strategy and corporate culture.

The departure of Ma is likely to jolt China's internet industry, which has been reeling from the arrest last weekend of Liu Qiangdong, the billionaire founder of the online retailer JD.com.

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