Ma built the company into a multibillion-dollar internet colossus.
Since handing off his CEO title to Daniel Zhang, Ma has spent 40 per cent of the year travelling the globe to preach about the virtues of globalisation and inter-connectedness, the potential of technology to improve lives, and about philanthropy. Monday is his 54th birthday, and the Chinese holiday Teacher's Day, making the announcement particularly timely. "This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba", he said.
Ma is retiring as China's business environment has soured, with Beijing and state-owned enterprises increasingly playing more interventionist roles with companies.
As per a Reuters report, while Ma's retirement marks a milestone in the company's history, analysts believe and industry insiders believe that it is highly unlikely that his involvement in the company will change significantly. He added that he would be spending more of his time and fortune focussed on education.
Ma will remain on the board of Alibaba.
On one hand, Chinese tech companies are facing increased scrutiny by the Chinese government led by President Xi Jinping, on the other hand, the tech firms are caught in an escalating trade war between the United States and China. "All these things that I've been preparing for 10 years".
As Beijing has increased its involvement in the private sector, Ma has shifted what he has said about China's government.
Ma is following a similar path as Bill Gates, who has dedicated himself to philanthropy after retirement, and has cited Microsoft's co-founder as an inspiration in an interview with Bloomberg TV recently. His net worth is estimated by Forbes to be around United States $ 36.6 billion.
In 2014, he created the Jack Ma Foundation, which has worked to improve education in rural China.
A former English teacher before establishing Alibaba with 17 partners, Ma is known by colleagues as "Teacher Ma".
Ma's departure is sure to leave an impression, perhaps one that is larger than the one he made during the years he led Alibaba. Ma also controls Ant Financial, the online financial platform that runs China's largest mobile payment system and money-market fund. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", Ma said.
Ma was born in September 1964 to Chinese traditional musician-storytellers living in Hangzhou, an ancient capital that's become a global high-tech hub and bastion of entrepreneurship, in part because of Alibaba's base there.
"It's the system which I think I have contributed to along with my team and this will be able to make the company last long", Ma said.