Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

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Over the course of his tenure at Alibaba, Ma became China's richest man, earning a net worth of more than $40 billion. Morley brought young Ma to Australia in 1985 for his first overseas trip, when he spent almost a month in Newcastle, an experience which the Chinese businessman said had "totally changed my future". Initially developed as a business-to-business e-commerce solution.

After being knocked back by United States venture capitalists in 1999, a cash-strapped Ma persuaded friends to give him $60,000 to start Alibaba, which operated out of an apartment in Hangzhou.

Known as Ma Yun in mainland China, he is scheduled to be in Russia next week to formalise Alibaba's venture with Mail.ru, the internet company owned by Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov and sovereign wealth fund Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). "I love education", he said. Ma stepped down as Alibaba's chief executive in 2013; the company's current chief executive is Daniel Zhang, who is a candidate to succeed Ma.

Earlier this week, Mr Ma told Bloomberg TV that he wanted to create a personal foundation, following in the footsteps of Microsoft's Bill Gates.

The Times said that in an interview, Ma said he planned to step down as executive chairman on Monday to pursue philanthropy in education.

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Xi has tightened control over businesses, especially ones that allow people to communicate over the Internet, and gone after billionaires who have mismanaged companies, allegedly committed crimes, such as bribery, or run afoul of Chinese politics.

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

"He's a symbol of the health of China's private sector and how high they can fly whether he likes it or not", Duncan Clark, author of the book "Alibaba: The House Jack Ma Built", said of Ma. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", Ma said.

A focus on education wouldn't surprise keen followers of Ma, who has spoken frequently of its importance to him and some of his shortcomings as a student, including failing China's national university exam twice. The first tech revolution caused WWI, the second caused WWII, now we are a third revolution, what's gonna happen? Jack Ma, a former English teacher, co-founded Alibaba with 18 others out of his apartment in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in 1999.

"It's the system which I think I have contributed to along with my team and this will be able to make the company last long", Ma said.

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