Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, China's richest man, to retire

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, China's richest man, to retire

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, China's richest man, to retire

Ma helped build it into a $420 billion company with more than 500 million Chinese customers.

After being knocked back by United States venture capitalists in 1999, cash-strapped Chinese entrepreneur Ma persuaded friends to give him $60,000 to start an e-commerce firm called Alibaba. The Chinese billionaire who had randomly announced his retirement added that he will continue to mentor Alibaba's management.

Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma makes a speech at 2018 Alibaba Xin Philanthropy Conference on September 5, 2018.

Talking exclusively to The New York Times, Jack Ma said that his retirement will mark the beginning of a new era. He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education.

Earlier Friday, Ma said he could "retire earlier" during a conversation with Bloomberg about Bill Gates' career.

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He went on to say that running Tesla was the "hardest" job he has: "It's very difficult to keep a vehicle company alive". But Musk also said this isn't really a priority, and he also dismissed the concept of a flying auto as impractical.

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. Ma also controls Ant Financial, the online financial platform that runs China's largest mobile payment system and money-market fund.

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

On one hand, Chinese tech companies are facing increased scrutiny by the Chinese government led by President Xi Jinping, on the other hand, the tech firms are caught in an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China. Ma stepped down as Alibaba's chief executive in 2013, but remained executive chairman. It was founded by 18 people, led by Ma, and now has more than 66,000 full-time employees, according to the company's latest annual filing.

Ma has long shown an admiration for Microsoft founder Bill Gates who has donated vast amounts of his wealth to philanthropic causes.

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.

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