Despite leaving day-to-day operations, Ma will remain on the board and mentor Alibaba's management. But Ma on Thursday told Bloomberg TV that he was mulling an early retirement similar to Bill Gates' early exit from Microsoft. "This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba". Ma established the Jack Ma Foundation in 2014, which fosters education for those in rural China, and has professed his love of education. "I'm sure he'll be just as involved as he has been in his chairman role, even if he doesn't have the formal title", Kevin Carter, founder of The Emerging Markets Internet exchange-trade fund, told the news agency. "The first time I used the internet, I touched on the keyboard and I find 'well, this is something I believe, it is something that is going to change the world and change China, '" Ma once told United States broadcaster CNN.
Ever the drama creators, other outlets were quick to say Ma is trying to one-up Gates. That fuelled his net worth to more than $40 billion, making him China's richest man. Alibaba has more than 86,000 employees on staff. He would take the company to astronomical heights and make it China's major e-commerce website in the years to come.
Although he was no longer in charge of the day-to-day running of the company, Ma continued to be Alibaba's guiding hand and its most recognized face.
Ma is the first of his generation of uber-wealthy tech bosses to retire, a rare move in a country where business figures often run their empires well into their 80s - Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing only retired in May at the age of 89.
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Nearly two decades later, Alibaba is an internet juggernaut and Ma is among the world's richest men, with a net worth of more than $40 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Ma's decision also comes as a US police investigation into an allegation of rape against Richard Liu, had of top rival JD.com Inc (JD.O), hammered its shares. Ma turns 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China known as Teacher's Day. 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 United States and China. He was released and returned to China, although the investigation remains active.
News of the executive's departure comes amid a tumultuous period the industry.