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Jack Ma retires from Alibaba when he turns 55. What next?



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."

"I'm 70 years old, I can do something in other areas, in areas like education," Ma said during an event in Alibaba last September.
Ma announced his intention to resign a year ago. Even after stepping down from senior management and the board of Alibaba, he is expected to continue shaping the future of the company through his lifetime membership in the Alibaba Partnership, a group of 36 who can nominate a majority of the board's directors. It also retains a 6.22% stake in the company.
A member of the Communist Party, Ma is the most famous entrepreneur in China and ̵
1; with a fortune of nearly $ 40 billion – the richest person in the country.

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.

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Last year, Ma spoke about the challenges of the future of education at the World Economic Forum, warning that "if we don't change the way we teach, we will be in trouble 30 years later."

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.

The tech mogul "shares his perspectives and experience in doing business in places like Africa," says Clark, where he has established a $ 10 million entrepreneurial award. Ma also funded wildlife protection initiatives and developed good relationships with African leaders such as Paul Kagame in Rwanda.

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.

"Women have always played an integral role in Alibaba since its inception two decades ago," Ma told a conference last month, according to a report published on the Alizila News website,
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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."

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Ma was honored by the Chinese government last November as one of 100 people who have made "an exceptional contribution" to China's economic transformation over the past four decades. The event was reported by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party which declared Ma a member.

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.

Some people associate the timing of Ma's decision with increasing restrictions on the Chinese government on internet companies. Ma, however, denied that Beijing had coerced him when he spoke at an event in Alibaba last September.
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"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.


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