Alibaba’s co-founder and executive chairman as well as China’s richest Man, Jack Ma, said he planned to step down from the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on his 54th birthday, Monday. Behind such plan, he is actually dreaming to pursue philanthropy in education, a changing of the guard for the $US420 billion ($590 billion) internet company. The inspirational Jack Ma who grew from a poor background to the richest entrepreneur, the founder of China’s biggest tech company, will not go for a retirement, instead, he will pursue his long-lasting dream to be a teacher!
A former English teacher, Ma started Alibaba in 1999 and built it into one of the world’s most consequential e-commerce and digital payments companies, transforming how Chinese people shop and pay for things. That fuelled his net worth to more than $US40 billion, making him China’s richest man. He is revered by many Chinese, some of whom have put his portrait in their homes to worship in the same way that they worship the God of Wealth.
Ma will remain on Alibaba’s board of directors and continue to mentor the company’s management. Ma turns 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China known as Teachers Day. In an interview, Ma said his retirement is not the end of an era but “the beginning of an era.” He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education. “I love education,” he said.
Ma is retiring as China’s business environment has soured, with Beijing and state-owned enterprises increasingly playing more interventionist roles with companies. Under President Xi Jinping, China’s internet industry has grown and become more important, prompting the government to tighten its leash. The Chinese economy is also facing slowing growth and increasing debt, and the country is embroiled in an escalating trade war with the United States.
Ma was not too happy with the newly inflamed trade war between US and China and warned about its adversities. Ma originally planned 1 million jobs in the US, after meeting Trump in January 2017, which now seems “completely destroyed” after the recent actions.
Alibaba will steer into a new era after Jack Ma, who founded the company in a small apartment and out grew it into a $420 billion company making it a leading tech company of the world. Ma’s considers becoming China’s biggest mogul as a “Hollywood story,” as mentioned in an interview for The New York Times in 2005.
Ma’s such decision was not so sudden but there remains an untold background story from his childhood which is interesting. Ma was eager to learn English for which he offered tours to the foreigners in exchange for the lessons. He also bought a radio to enlist to the English broadcast like the voice of America. The nickname jack was also given to him by a tourist, eventually sticking to his name. Ma applied for college after finishing his school. In China’s college entrance program, he failed twice due to his lower marks in Maths. He finally made it through in his third try and ultimately graduated from the Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute in 1988.