Alibaba's co-founder Jack Ma to retire on September 10

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Jack Ma will step down from his role on Monday - his 54th birthday - and plans to devote his time to philanthropy and education.

Notably, while Ma had stepped down as the Alibaba CEO nearly eight years back, he remained the face of the company at top political and business events and he played an important role in devising the company's long term strategy.

After being knocked back by USA venture capitalists in 1999, a cash-strapped Ma persuaded friends to give him $60,000 to start Alibaba, which operated out of an apartment in Hangzhou.

The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and has a market value of about $421 billion. The Chinese economy is also facing slowing growth and increasing debt, and the country is embroiled in an escalating trade war with the United States.

Ma, who turns 54 on Monday, now oversees a number of charitable projects in education and environmental fields.

He is one of the most colourful of China's growing crop of billionaires, performing a Michael Jackson-inspired dance routine at the company's 18th anniversary celebration past year, and starring in his own kung fu short film. Ma stepped down as Alibaba's chief executive in 2013, but remained executive chairman.

Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma makes a speech at 2018 Alibaba Xin Philanthropy Conference on September 5, 2018.

"I am very thankful for Australia and the time I spent there in my youth", Ma said during his visit.

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But he was made captain for the opening two games of the Premier League season in the absence of Antonio Valencia and has scored twice so far.

Alibaba has been referred to as the Amazon of China.

Jack Ma will remain on Alibaba's board of directors and continue to mentor the company's management.

"I have full confidence in my team and in the partner structure, which lots of investors don't like", Ma said in his interview with Bloomberg. He said the reason he's leaving is to pursue philanthropic endeavors focused on education.

"This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba", he told Bloomberg TV recently. He was released and has since returned to Beijing, where is based.

Alibaba was founded by 18 people led by Ma.

Today, Alibaba's empire encompasses e-commerce, online banking, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment - and even a corporate messaging service similar to Slack.

"I've prepared a Jack Ma Foundation. I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier".