Jack Ma, the Co-founder of the Chinese retail behemoth Alibaba, is officially stepping down as company chairman on September 10 -- the day the charismatic entrepreneur turns 55. As part of his post-retirement plan, the former English teacher-turned-businessman plans to spend a good amount of his vast fortunes (worth over $41 billion) on his first love which is education.
According to Business Today, Ma is leaving his multi-billion dollar e-commerce conglomerate in the hands of his trusted partners -- Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang and Co-founder and Vice-Chairman Joseph Tsai.
Ma, along with a team of 18 people, had founded Alibaba from an apartment in the eastern city of Hangzhou in 1999; 20 years later, it has over 66,000 full-time employees and a market value of about $420 billion.
He had announced last year that he would hand over the company Chairman's post to Zhang. Ma would, however, serve on the Alibaba board till 2020. Daniel Zhang, popularly known Xiaoyaozi (free and unfettered one) among Alibaba's employees, has won the trust of the Chinese billionaire during his 11 years of association with the e-commerce giant.
From a cash-strapped entrepreneur to one of the richest man in the world, Ma's journey is nothing short of a miracle. "He's succeeded at what Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and (Yahoo co-founder) Jerry Yang failed at, which is making themselves redundant," Jeffrey Towson, Peking University professor, was quoted by AFP as saying. Towson added that Ma built a robust culture and innovative culture at Alibaba, which had helped the company stay ahead in the game.
Jack Ma is seen as a global ambassador for Chinese business and as such is frequently listed as one of the world's most powerful people by Forbes. He also serves as a role model for startup businesses. In 2017, he was ranked second in the annual "World's 50 Greatest Leaders" list by Fortune. On 10 September 2018 he announced that he will retire from Alibaba and pursue educational work, effective in one year, with Daniel Zhang succeeding him as executive chairman.
He applied ten times to Harvard Business School and got rejected. As of June 2019, he is one of China's richest men, with a net worth of $35.6 billion, as well as one of the wealthiest people in the world and also was ranked 21st in Forbes World's Most Powerful People.