Ma stepped down as Alibaba's CEO in 2013 but retained a role as executive chairman and a stake in the company. He will remain on Alibaba's board of directors and serve as a mentor to the company's new management, he said.
The company had a market value of about $420 billion as of Friday's close. When Bloomberg asked whether it could happen this year, Ma shrugged and said: "You'll know very soon". It is symbolically significant that his reported retirement coincides with Teachers' Day in China, and Ma used to teach English before becoming a business magnate. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", he said.
Alibaba started as an online marketplace for businesses to sell their products to other businesses.
Ma maintains a prominent worldwide profile, frequently inviting global leaders to the company's Hangzhou headquarters.
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Ma also keeps a high worldwide profile, frequently inviting global leaders to the company's Hangzhou headquarters. Last year, he met U.S. President Donald Trump, who described him as "smart" and "open minded". 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 USA and China. China's biggest e-commerce firm, it now has more than 66,000 full-time employees, according to the company's latest annual filing.
Ma's retirement comes at an tough time for the Chinese tech industry. The Chinese government has increasingly sought to regulate the industry where Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd are fighting a fierce competition for the country's consumers.
Trade tensions also present a new challenge for Chinese tech firms, especially those like Alibaba which are rapidly expanding overseas.
Ma's Bloomberg interview came as shares of China's second-largest e-commerce company, JD.com, plummeted as its CEO Li Qiangdong was arrested in the USA over an accusation of rape.
He is one of the most colorful of China's growing crop of billionaires, performing a Michael Jackson-inspired dance routine at the company's 18th anniversary celebration previous year, and starring in his own kung fu short film. Through his lawyers, he has denied any wrongdoing.