Over the course of his tenure, Ma has also become China's richest man with a net worth of more than $40 billion. Monday is his 54th birthday, and the Chinese holiday Teacher's Day, making the announcement particularly timely.
Ma, a former English teacher, co-founded Alibaba in 1999.
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 % in the quarter ending June 30.
It owns a stake in China's hugely popular Twitter-like Weibo platform and in 2015 it bought the South China Morning Post newspaper.
Last month, Alibaba reported a 60 percent increase in quarterly sales, even as profits fell. Ant Financial has revenues of about $40 billion a year. The company has increased its presence outside China by investing in e-commerce and online finance companies in India and Southeast Asia. Ma was among the first foreign business leaders to meet with Donald Trump after his election. "There's no country like China in the world", he said. Ma told Bloomberg earlier this week that he wanted to dedicate more of his time and fortune to philanthropy with the creation of a foundation in his own name focused on education, following in the footsteps of fellow billionaire Bill Gates.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV this week, Ma signalled he was thinking about focusing more on philanthropy. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier". He cited Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as an example.
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