Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma announces retirement

Alibaba co-founder and chairman Jack Ma plans to retire from the Chinese e-commerce giant on Monday to devote his time to philanthropy focused on education, he told the 'The New York Times' in an interview.

Ma was an English teacher before starting Alibaba in 1999 and built it into a multibillion-dollar internet colossus, becoming one of the world's richest men and a revered figure in his homeland.

His own worth has soared along with that of the company, which was valued at USD 420.8 billion based on its share price at the close of trade on Friday.

Ma told 'The New York Times' that he plans to step down from the company on Monday -- his 54th birthday -- referring to his departure as "the beginning of an era" rather than an end.

Ma, who gave up the title of CEO in 2013, said he now planned to devote his time and fortune to education.

In an interview with 'Bloomberg TV' released on Friday, he hinted at his retirement plans, saying he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, one of the world's most prolific philanthropists.

"There's a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates. I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier," he said.

"I think some day, and soon, I'll go back to teaching," he said, adding he had been preparing philanthropy plans at his eponymous foundation "for 10 years".

(Agencies)