This former English teacher, who turns 55 today, will pass the post to a team of executives, including Daniel Zhang, CEO since 2015.
Jack Ma, one of the richest men in China, with an estimated fortune of $ 41 billion, wants to devote himself to philanthropic projects, including education.
His departure marks the beginning of a new era for a company that knew take advantage of the Internet hatching in China and opted for the growth of domestic consumption, in a country that is now the leader of online commerce.
The entrepreneur is also known for his eccentricities. In 2017, he dressed up as Michael Jackson at a gala, an image far removed from the impassibility of many Chinese leaders.
"His experience as an English teacher, along with his charisma and his sense of humor, made him the emblematic figure of Chinese entrepreneurs abroad," said Duncan Clark, author of the book Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built.
"Its influence as a symbol of Chinese entrepreneurship is second to none," he said.
The origins of Alibaba
Jack Ma discovered the Internet on a trip to the United States in the 1990s, when he was an entrepreneur with no resources. After several projects in China, without great success, he convinced a group of friends to lend him $ 60,000 to launching an online trading company, Alibaba, in 1999.
The company, which is listed in the United States, It has a value of 462,000 million dollars, according to the financial agency Bloomberg. Jack Ma, who could retain some advisory functions in the company, did not comment on his retirement.
His successor, Daniel Zhang, is known for his rigor and rarely appears in public. However, the Chinese press says it was he who turned Jack Ma's "tractor" into a powerful "Boeing 747" of Internet commerce.
"You have to be awake every minute, you have to keep your eyes open during sleep," Daniel Zhang had said last year.