Alibaba's Jack Ma, China's richest man, announces plans to retire

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According to the paper current CEO Daniel Zhang is a "candidate" to replace Ma, who plans to pursue philanthropy in education. The Chinese billionaire who had randomly announced his retirement added that he will continue to mentor Alibaba's management.

China's richest man explained in an interview with Bloomberg TV that he plans to shift his focus to education and wants to return to teaching, his first love before starting his e-commerce empire.

Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma makes a speech at 2018 Alibaba Xin Philanthropy Conference on September 5, 2018.

Ma said his retirement is not the end of an era but "the beginning of an era".

Ma has been backing away from Alibaba over the past few years, stepping down as chief executive officer in 2013 but remaining very involved in the company's strategic planning, according to the Times.

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

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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. Firms including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JD.com have flourished in recent years, growing to almost rival American internet behemoths like Amazon and Google in their size, scope and ambition.

Ma is part of a generation of billionaire entrepreneurs who made their fortunes as China embraced the digital age, creating some of the country's largest and most successful companies in the space of little more than a decade.

It transformed how Chinese people shop and pay for things, especially through the now ubiquitous Alipay digital payment service.

Ma is retiring as China's business environment has soured, with Beijing and state-owned enterprises increasingly playing more interventionist roles with companies.

Notably, while Ma had stepped down as the Alibaba CEO nearly eight years back, he remained the face of the company at top political and business events and he played an important role in devising the company's long term strategy. He cited Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as an example.

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