Alibaba's co-founder and executive Jack Ma is said to retire from the e-commerce company on Monday, as he plans to focus on philanthropy in education. However, he will remain on the company's board of directors and will mentor its management, reports the New York Times.
Jack founded Alibaba in 1999 and stepped down as the CEO in 2013. He is currently the company's international face at political and business events. Alibaba is yet to respond to requests for comment but said in a social media posting on Saturday that Ma had met visiting African leaders and business partners in recent days.
Ma is China's third-richest person with a net worth of 36.6 billion according to Forbes. He was quoted saying his retirement wasn't the end of an era, but the beginning of one.
Industry analysts still believe that Ma's involvement is unlikely to change significantly. "I don't think it means that much, frankly. He stepped back from the CEO role about four or five years ago and very specifically made a comment about wanting the younger people to lead the company," said Kevin Carter, founder of The Emerging Markets Internet exchange-trade fund.
Ma also has a number of charitable projects in environment and educational areas. He is also a cult figure in China's internet industry. He maintains an international profile. Last year, he met US President Donald Trump, who described him as "smart" and "open minded".
Alibaba is China's largest e-marketplace which was founded by 18 people led by Jack Ma. Now the company has more than 66,000 full-time employees, according to its annual filing. Alibaba has a market evaluation of around $420 billion. Ma also controls Ant Financial, which has a market value of about $150 billion after a recent fundraising.