Alibaba founder Jack Ma steps down on 55th birthday

Reuters

Posted at Sep 10 2019 02:22 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2019 02:41 PM

Tesla Inc CEO Musk and Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Ma attend the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on Aug. 29, 2019. Aly Song, Reuters

(UPDATE) Jack Ma, co-founder and CEO of China's largest online retailer Alibaba, is scheduled to step down from his position as the company's executive chairman on Tuesday.

Last year, Jack Ma announced in an open letter that he would retire on his 55th birthday, which falls on September 10 this year, and the company CEO Daniel Zhang will take over as the chairman of the board.

Ma's journey from English teacher to tech tycoon is one of modern China's best-known success stories.

In 1999, Ma co-founded a business marketplace web page out of his apartment in his hometown, Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province.

Now Alibaba has grown to be a global empire spanning online retail, cloud computing, digital banking, even entertainment.

Success didn't come easy for Ma. He failed his college entrance exams twice, got turned down by Harvard University 10 times, and was rejected for 30 jobs after graduating.

The "no" was kept coming when he sought venture capital to back his internet enterprises, but Forrest Gump, his favorite movie character, inspired him to carry on.

The investors who said "no", may now be looking back with regret, as Alibaba is a multi-billion dollar behemoth, boasting more than 720 million active users each month.

Alibaba is often credited with helping to transform the Chinese economy by giving choice to consumers in rural areas, unlocking domestic buying power, and spurring the growth of countless small businesses.

In 2014, Alibaba shattered records at the New York Stock Exchange. Its initial public offering raised 25 billion US dollars, a feat unheard of before, or since.

As the face of Alibaba, Ma lives in the limelight and meets with world leaders, speaks at global forums, and shares his opinions on a multitude of topics.

Ma has said that he would like to focus on his charities once he steps down as CEO of Alibaba.

He has also expressed interest in returning to education, where he had his beginning, coming full circle back to the man that many in China respectfully refer to as "Teacher Ma".