After two decades of building Alibaba into a $ 460 billion business, Ma is now focusing her time on philanthropy. He launched the Jack Ma Foundation in 2014 and cites the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as inspiration for his charitable endeavors.
"Jack has been signaling for some time about his interests in philanthropy, the environment, women's empowerment, education and development," says Duncan Clark, author of "Alibaba: The House That Built Jack Ma."
But he is also a former English teacher and has often spoken of his passion for education. The date Ma officially chose to step down, Sept. 10, is Teacher's Day in China, "so there are some announcements in that," Clark said. This is also Ma's 55th birthday.
Ma referred to his previous career to explain why he was leaving his company.
"Teachers always want their students to surpass them, so the responsible thing for me and the company is to leave younger, more talented people to take leadership roles," Ma said last September.
This knowledge-based approach teaching will “fail our de and "who will never be able to compete with machines, said Ma. Children should be trained in "soft skills" such as independent thinking, values and teamwork, he added.
In 2017, the Ma Foundation pledged $ 45 million over 10 years to help identify and develop future teaching talent in rural China.
Ma has Clark also moves his teaching outside of China to other emerging markets.
Support for Women
Ma and Alibaba hosted a biennial conference in 2015 on Women and Entrepreneurship in 2015. The events have painted names such as Ariana Huffington and Vera Wang. This year's conference features a video message from Rihanna.
Did you say that gender equality is one of the most important issues in the 21st century, noting that "if you want your business to succeed, it's crucial to appoint enough female leaders."
The revelation came amid growing concern about the tougher grip exerted on China's private sector by the Communist Party under President Jinping.
Ma moves away from Alibaba at a relatively young age. In the past, he said he wanted to retire earlier than Bill Gates, who stepped down as Microsoft chairman at the age of 58 in 2014.
"I have rumors from outside China. saying, 'That's because the government wants to squeeze you.' No one can [push you out] unless you want to leave, right? Because I know it's nothing for politics or government, "Ma said.
However, some observers say that Ma has flown too close to the sun and Alibaba's departure is partly about self-preservation. Charity projects that have signaled Ma that they are interested in pursuing retirement have the added benefit of being unlikely to spark waves with Chinese leadership.
The last chapter in Clark's Ma Book is entitled "Icon or Icarus."
"He wants to secure his inheritance. He is not leaving the company entirely. But this move is an intelligent way to stay up," Clark said.
"In order not to be Icarus, you must … not only avoid flying too close to the sun, but also avoid breaking in the waves. So you must still be ambitious. In philanthropy, education, the environment it has plenty of still has room to take off. Areas where the government will be tolerant, if not encouraging, "Clark said.