board of directors but focus on philanthropy in education, the newspaper said. Ma, who turns 54 on Monday, plans to step down from Alibaba on that day, he told the New York Times. But Ma on Thursday told Bloomberg TV that he was mulling an early retirement similar to Bill Gates' early exit from Microsoft.

"I don't think it means that much, frankly".

Ma told The New York Times that he will retire September 10 and focus on philanthropic efforts in education.

It remains unclear whether Alibaba will appoint a new chairman after Ma formally retires from the company on Monday.

Ma, who is China's third-richest person with a net worth of $36.6 billion, according to Forbes magazine, was quoted by the NYT as saying that his retirement is not the end of an era, but "the beginning of an era".


While Ma has been serving as Alibaba's executive chairman after handing the CEO title to David Zhang in 2013, the New York Times reports that Zhang is a candidate to take over his chairman duties. Ma also controls Ant Financial, the online financial platform that runs China's largest mobile payment system and money-market fund.

Ma started Alibaba in 1999 in his apartment in the Chinese city of Hangzhou and is now among the richest people in the world. The e-commerce company has a total market value of about $420 billion as of Friday's close.

Ma's departure is sure to leave an impression, perhaps one that is larger than the one he made during the years he led Alibaba.

Ma's retirement comes after a torrid couple of weeks for his rival tech CEOs in China. Customers use its e-commerce platforms to order products that previous year saw package deliveries reach 55 million a day.

Ma said he sees himself as an accidental executive.


"I am very thankful for Australia and the time I spent there in my youth", Ma said during his visit.

In 2014, he created the Jack Ma Foundation, which has worked to improve education in rural China.

"I sat down with our senior executives 10 years ago, and asked what Alibaba would do without me", Ma said in an interview with the South China Morning Post, which Alibaba owns. However, in contrast to the American magnate, he wants to "retire earlier".

He is referred to as "Teacher Ma" within Alibaba. He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education.


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