Chinese billionaire Jack Ma reportedly retiring from Alibaba on Monday

Screenshot via Bloomberg

However, the Chinese billionaire will still remain on Alibaba's board of directors. Ma helped build it into a $420 billion company with more than 500 million Chinese customers.

Alibaba Group is a Chinese multinational holding conglomerate specialising in e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology.

With a market value of more than $400bn (£309bn), it includes online selling, film production and cloud computing. The company owns or holds stakes in some of China's most important media assets, including the Twitter-like social media site Weibo and the Hong Kong-based English-language newspaper The South China Morning Post.

Alibaba was not available for comment outside business hours. He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education.

Ma's retirement makes him one of the first founders of a generation of Chinese internet entrepreneurs to step down.

In February previous year, Ma returned to Australia to give the University of Newcastle $US20 million as a tribute to his late Australian friend.

"There's a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates".

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"The culture, the landscape and most importantly its people had a profound positive impact on my view of the world at that time".

A focus on education wouldn't surprise keen followers of Ma, who has spoken frequently of its importance to him and some of his shortcomings as a student, including failing China's national university exam twice. The company has increased its presence outside China by investing in e-commerce and online finance companies in India and Southeast Asia.

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 U.S. and China.

He likes to recount his stories of rejection, such as the time he was turned down for a job at the KFC fast-food chain and being rejected by Harvard "10 times".

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. His departure completes a management transition that began in 2013, when Daniel Zhang took over as chief executive. He cited Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as an example. A former teacher, Ma told Bloomberg TV earlier this week he might go back to teaching someday.

"Spending money is more hard than making money, especially for philanthropy, where we have a good heart, you should also have good knowledge and capability to spend money".

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