Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd steps down as executive chairman

Under Jack Ma’s stewardship Alibaba grew into an e-commerce giant that it is today.

Jack Ma, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s executive chairman and co-founder, who is also one of China’s best known corporate leaders, is set to retire from the e-commerce giant. The former English teacher now plans on focusing on philanthropy in education.

As yet, it is not known whether Alibaba would appoint a new chairman.

Ma, founded Alibaba in 1999 along with 18 other people, and thanks to his stewardship, the company grew into one of the biggest online retailers in the world. It employs more than 66,000 full-time employees, as per its latest annual filing. Ma stepped down as its CEO in 2013. He currently serves as the company’s international face at top bushiness’s events.

Alibaba did not respond to requests for comment.

According to Forbes Magazine, Ma, with a net worth of $36.6 billion, is China’s third richest person. The New York Times termed his as “the beginning of an era.”

As of Friday’s close, Alibaba had a market value of nearly $420 billion. Ma also controls Ant Financial, which was valued at $150 billion at its latest fundraising round.

Ma’s stepping down comes at a time when Beijing is increasingly trying to regulate the Chinese tech industry; further, Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd are fighting a fierce battle to increase their respective footprints on China’s consumers. Trade tensions between China and the United States are also posing a new set of challenges for Chinese tech firms, especially the ones like Alibaba who have a major overseas presence.

Case in point: earlier this year, Ant Financial’s $1.2 billion bid to acquire Moneygram International Inc MG.O, a money transfer service, was blocked on national security grounds; Ant Financial termed the move as related to “geopolitical” changes.

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