September 11, 2019,   1:49 PM

At 55, China’s Richest Man Retires From $480B Alibaba Empire

Jamila Gandhi



Image source: The Duran

 Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma has officially stepped down as executive chairman of Asia’s biggest e-commerce company, amid a US and China tariff war.

With a net worth of $38.2 billion, Ma is China’s wealthiest individual and globally ranks number 21 in Forbes list of World's Billionaires. The self-made businessman made his fortune by co-founding one of the world’s largest e-commerce businesses, the Alibaba Group in his small Hangzhou apartment in 1999. Its 2014 IPO in New York set a world record as the biggest public stock offering globally, raising $25 billion.

Today Alibaba’s global headquarters in Hangzhou is home to about 22,000 of its 100,000 international workforce and serves as an incubator for all things technology, from testing self-driving cars to automated hotels like Flyzoo. The e-commerce platform is valued at $480.8 billion and has evolved into over 30 business units, running the Alibaba Pictures and AliPay divisions among many others.

Ma gave up his position on his 55th birthday on September 10, as part of a succession announced a year ago, handing over the reins to current CEO Daniel Zhang since 2015. “He has the logic and critical thinking skills of a supercomputer, a commitment to his vision, the courage to wholeheartedly dare to take on innovative business models and industries of the future," Ma said of Zhang in 2018 in a message announcing his appointment.

The billionaire will still remain on the board of directors until next year and will retain his lifetime memberships to Alibaba’s governing body, the Alibaba Partnership. The retirement confirmation also coincides with the corporation’s 20th anniversary.  In the company’s gala celebratory party, the tech billionaire performed a version of “You Raise Me Up” with Zhang.

Beyond Alibaba, the former English teacher’s investments include stakes in Chinese entertainment industry firms Huayi Brothers and Beijing Enlight Media. 

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