Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma reportedly plans to retire

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma reportedly plans to retire

Ma told The New York Times that he plans to step down from the company on Monday - his 54th birthday - referring to his departure as "the beginning of an era" rather than an end.

Its customers use its e-commerce platforms to order products that previous year led to package reaching 55-million a day. The Hangzhou-based company, which began as an e-commerce marketplace founded with US$60,000, has taken less than two decades to expand into a US$420 billion juggernaut in online shopping, cashless payments, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and even Hollywood movies.

Alibaba is active in sectors across the Chinese economy and has transformed many.

Ma is retiring at a time internet companies like Alibaba have fallen under tighter government scrutiny, as the industry plays an increasingly important role in the country's economy.

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Earlier Friday, Ma said he could "retire earlier" during a conversation with Bloomberg about Bill Gates' career.

"There are a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates".

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. Adding that he loves education, Jack Ma said that after stepping down his focus will be on education.

Though he will no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, Ma will continue to serve on Alibaba's board where he will offer his input about the future financial direction of the company. When asked if his retirement could happen as soon as this year, Ma smiled and said, "You'll know very soon".

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That fuelled his net worth to more than $40 billion, making him China's richest man. The Chinese e-commerce giant, since then is being managed by its current CEO Daniel Zhang, who is likely to succeed Ma after his retirement.

As Beijing has increased its involvement in the private sector, Ma has shifted what he has said about China's government.

A former English teacher before establishing Alibaba with 17 partners, Ma is known by colleagues as "Teacher Ma".

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

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In an interview with Bloomberg TV this week, Ma signalled he was thinking about focusing more on philanthropy. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", he said.

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