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This will be a big change of guard for the $420 billion dollar Chinese internet company. The New York Times is blocked in China by Communist Party censors and there was no official statement from Alibaba on Saturday.

Its customers use its e-commerce platforms to order products that a year ago led to package reaching 55-million a day. According to Chinese media outlets, he belongs to a family which used to get just USA $ 40 each month to take care of its needs.Yet, Ma managed to graduate from Hangzhou Teachers College with a major in English-language education.

As he prepares to leave the company, Ma is among China's super rich.

Ma, a former tour guide, English teacher and self-styled "China's Forrest Gump", would remain on the company's board of directors and continue to mentor the company's management, the New York Times said. That fuelled his net worth to more than $40 billion, making him China's richest man.

Ma, 53, is also China's wealthiest individual.

Alibaba started as an online marketplace for businesses to sell their products to other businesses.

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. Alibaba later rolled out Alipay, an online payment service, to facilitate transactions in a country where few people had credit cards. "This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba".

The Alibaba empire now spans well beyond online retail and payments to include cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, with sterling revenue growth that jumped another 61 percent in the quarter ending June 30.

A devotee of tai chi, he has made references to Chinese martial arts in both business strategy and corporate culture. It is still reeling from allegations of rape against Amazon rival JD.com's chief executive Richard Liu.

Ma's retirement comes at an tough time for the Chinese tech industry.