At 55 years old, Jack Ma, boss of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, is stepping down from day-to-day management of the company he founded – with a $38.6bn fortune in his pocket.
The move was announced a year ago in a letter to customers and shareholders. Ma has been "consciously edging himself out" ever since, according to the Beeb. Chief exec Daniel Zhang will replace him as executive chairman.
Ma started out as a tour guide and English teacher before founding the online bazaar from a shared apartment in 1999 to provide an easier way for European and US small businesses to directly access Chinese manufacturers.
Alibaba is listed on the New York Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation just shy of $460bn. Its Initial Public Offering in 2014 raised a staggering $25bn – the largest ever.
The company is now widely diversified with a consumer marketplace (Taobao), banking, bricks-and-mortar shops and retail IT systems, online payments, supplying clouds and a variety of other online services. But its core business still trades about three times as much as Amazon. It employs more than 100,000 people around the world.
There have been fears that Alibaba will find itself on the wrong side of Trump's trade war, but company execs insist they will benefit from a Chinese policy of increasing imports.
Ma is a colourful character – he used a speech earlier this year to urge staff to make sure they were having sex six times in six days. The joke was "669", an inversion of the traditional Chinese industry maxim of "996" – working from 9am to 9pm for six days a week.
The speech was made at the company's annual Aliday held on 10 May every year. Families are welcomed onto company campuses and there is a mass wedding with a ceremony overseen by Mr Ma.
Alibaba is also a massive cloud player – the third largest in the world by its own reckoning, although most would put it in fourth spot behind Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft Azure. It claims over a million customers. ®