HANGZHOU, ZHEJIANG PROVINCE, CHINA (ALIBABA) – Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s co-founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma, will retire from the e-commerce company on Monday, as the former English teacher seeks to focus on philanthropy in education, the New York Times reported.
It was not immediately clear whether the company will appoint a new chairman. Ma, who founded Alibaba in 1999, stepped down as chief executive in 2013. He currently serves as the company’s international face at top political and business’s events.
Ma, who is China’s third richest person with a net worth of $36.6 billion according to Forbes magazine, was quoted by the New York Times as saying that his retirement is not the end of an era, but “the beginning of an era.”
Ma, who turns 54 on Monday, currently oversees a number of charitable projects in education and environmental fields. He is a cult figure in China’s internet industry and has attracted a large following among entrepreneurs and in pop culture alike. At events he is often met with screaming fans.
Ma also keeps a high international profile, frequently inviting global leaders to the company’s Hangzhou headquarters. Last year he met with U.S. President Donald Trump, who described him as “smart” and “open minded.”