Alibaba's Jack Ma 'to step down'

Alibaba group founder and CEO Jack Ma

Alibaba group founder and CEO Jack Ma

Ma stepped down as Alibaba's chief executive in 2013, but remained executive chairman.

In an exclusive New York Times interview, the Chinese billionaire said on Friday that his retirement was not the end of an era but "the beginning of an era".

Ma started his journey with just U.S. $ 60,000 - loaned to him by friends, and started Alibaba in 1999.

Mr Ma co-founded Alibaba in 1999 and has seen it become one of the world's biggest internet companies.

Ma's retirement comes after a torrid couple of weeks for his rival tech CEOs in China.

In an interview with the New York Times Ma said he would step down on September 10 to pursue educational charity work. His birthday also coincides with a the Chinese holiday of Teacher's Day, which celebrates educators. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", he said.

Seeing an opportunity for small businesses to buy and sell their goods online, he started Alibaba, initially running the company out of his apartment in the eastern city of Hangzhou, where the company's headquarters remains.

Jack Ma

Ma oversees a number of charitable projects in education and environmental fields.

Ma maintains a prominent worldwide profile, frequently inviting global leaders to the company's Hangzhou headquarters.

Jack Ma, one of the richest people in China, is getting ready to quit his job as chairman of Alibaba.

Although he was no longer in charge of the day-to-day running of the company, Ma continued to be Alibaba's guiding hand and its most recognized face. His own worth has soared along with that of the company, which was valued at $420.8 billion based on its share price at the close of trading on Friday.

The succession plans come at a tricky time for Chinese tech firms.

Authorities have increasingly sought to regulate the industry where Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd 0700.HK are fighting a fierce battle for consumers. Firms including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and have flourished in recent years, growing to almost rival American internet behemoths like Amazon and Google in their size, scope and ambition. The company's annual revenue totals about 250 billion yuan, or $40 billion. Liu, who goes by Richard Liu in the English-speaking world, was arrested on a rape allegation in Minneapolis during a business trip. Through his lawyers, he has denied any wrongdoing.

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