China’s richest man Jack Ma today steps down as chairman of Alibaba, 20 years after founding the ecommerce company.
As he celebrates his 55th birthday, Ma will hand over the reins to Daniel Zhang, the company’s CEO who Ma handpicked last year.
Ma’s retirement was announced last September. In an open letter he said: “Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things.”
Ma says he wants to dedicate the rest of his life and £31bn fortune to philanthropic pursuits, specifically one of his known passions: the widespread of education to people living in rural and disadvantaged areas.
Alibaba began in 1999 as a trading platform for businesses, only launching its consumer-facing business in 2003. As global retail growth stalled, Alibaba followed Amazon in branching out into services, offering online payments, financial services, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
Alibaba has been listed on the New York stock exchange since 2014 and has a market capitalisation of $460bn.