Jack Ma is stepping down as executive chairman of Alibaba, the ecommerce group he founded nearly 20 years ago that is now China’s most valuable company, with an equity value of about $420bn. Alibaba, together with rival Tencent, has changed the way people work, play and pay in China — and in the process created some of the world’s richest men and women.
Mr Ma has a net worth of more than $40bn according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Alibaba, like its global tech peers, has humble beginnings and vast aspirations. It launched the world’s then biggest initial public offering in 2014 and expects the value of goods sold on its platform will be equal to size of the world’s fifth-largest economy, by 2036.
Mr Ma told The New York Times, which first reported the news, that his retirement was “the beginning of an era”, and he would focus more of his energies on education. “I love education,” he said. Mr Ma’s decision to retire comes as sentiment is souring for China’s tech sector amid both macro concerns, including the US china trade war, and a regulatory ramp up by Beijing.