Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Amid such a situation, Ma's departure is likely to prove to be a jolt to the Chinese internet industry, which at present is still trying to recover from the shock of the arrest of founder, Liu Qiangdong. The New York Times is blocked in China by Communist Party censors and there was no official statement from Alibaba on Saturday.

Even after stepping down as chief executive officer in 2013, the former English teacher remains the public face of a company with a market value of more than US$400 billion and interests spanning e-commerce and Hollywood film production to cloud computing and online payments.

He is one of the most colorful of China's growing crop of billionaires, performing a Michael Jackson-inspired dance routine at the company's 18th anniversary celebration a year ago, and starring in his own kung fu short film.

After his retirement, Ma will remain on Alibaba's board of directors and continue to mentor the company's management, The New York Times reported.

Alibaba's growth and Ma's wealth track changes in modern China, in which a burgeoning urban middle class has more money to spend while authorities allowed large accumulations of wealth, especially when connected to forward-thinking enterprises. That fuelled his net worth to more than $40 billion, making him China's richest man.

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. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", he said.

As Alibaba has flourished, Ma has talked many times about how he did not want to spend his whole life at the company, saying he would retire one day and go back to teaching.

A devotee of tai chi, he has made references to Chinese martial arts in both business strategy and corporate culture.

Meanwhile internet and gaming giant Tencent, an e-payment rival, has seen its profits and share price drop amid an apparent regulatory squeeze on the tech giant's online gaming business.

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