Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire on Monday

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

The charismatic Ma told the Times that he plans to retire on Monday, at the age of 54, saying this marks "the beginning of a new era".

The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and has a market value of about $421 billion.

Alibaba is active in sectors across the Chinese economy and has transformed many. While Ma sees himself as an accidental executive who only entered the business world with Alibaba's founding nearly 20 years ago, he has become one of China's most recognized corporate leaders.

"People in China and America, one thing we have in common is the heart of love and respect", Ma said.

Ma was Alibaba's chief executive until 2013, when he stepped down to become chairman. But Ma on Thursday told Bloomberg TV that he was mulling an early retirement similar to Bill Gates' early exit from Microsoft.

In an interview with the New York Times Ma said he would step down on September 10 to pursue educational charity work.

Alibaba set up an an Australian headquarters in Melbourne in 2017, headed by Maggie Zhou, to make it easier for local business to sell into China.

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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.

Considered China's richest person, the e-commerce company's co-founder holds a spot in the world's top twenty billionaires in the world with a reported net worth of $39.9 billion.

Ma is stepping back at a tricky time for Chinese tech firms.

Ma recognized an opportunity in 1999 to play matchmaker for small and medium-size Chinese manufacturers, which lacked access to other businesses around the globe that were looking for products as varied as bamboo toothpicks, bath towels and machine tools.

Ma's retirement comes after a torrid couple of weeks for his rival tech CEOs in China. He was released and has since returned to Beijing, where JD.com is based.

The Alibaba empire now spans well beyond online retail and payments to include cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, with sterling revenue growth that jumped another 61 percent in the quarter ending June 30.

"I've prepared a Jack Ma Foundation. I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", he said.

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