Alibaba chairman Jack Ma, the richest man ends 20-year reign by officially retiring as he turns 55. The former English teacher co-founded Alibaba in 1999 and it has become one of the world’s biggest e-commerce giants.
Alibaba’s chief executive Daniel Zhang will replace him as executive chairman. The current value of the company is at $480bn (£389 billion). He is the first founder among a generation of Chinese entrepreneurs to step down from his company.
He bought his first computer at the age of 33 and was surprised when no Chinese beers turned up in his first online search for “beer”. With no background in computing, Mr. Ma co-founded Alibaba in his apartment, having convinced a group of friends to invest in his online marketplace.
His group grew at an exponential rate globally and its listing in New York set a record as the world’s biggest public stock offering. Mr. Ma has a net worth of $38.6 billion, ranking him among the world’s richest billionaires, according to Forbes.
He now wants to focus on philanthropy and education. He told the New York Times last year that his retirement was not the end but the “beginning of an era”. “I love education,” he was quoted at saying. The newspaper said he would remain on Alibaba’s board of directors and continue to mentor the company’s management.