\u00a0Jack Ma, the iconic Chinese entrepreneur, is making plans for a future after Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the company he co-founded and turned into Asia\u2019s most valuable company.\r\nChina\u2019s richest man explained in an interview with\u00a0Bloomberg TV\u00a0that he plans to shift his focus to education and wants to return to teaching, his first love before starting his e-commerce empire. He has created a foundation in his own name, modelled in part of the efforts of Microsoft Corp. co-founder and fellow billionaire Bill Gates. Ma, who turns 54 on Monday, plans to step down from Alibaba on that day, he told the\u00a0New York Times.\r\nMa ended his time as chief executive officer in 2013, but has remained chairman and the public face of the company, which now has a market value of more than $400 billion. His departure is a sign of confidence in current management as the business evolves by expanding beyond e-commerce to include digital payments, cloud computing and the production of big-budget movies. The current CEO is Daniel Zhang, who took over the post in 2015, and a group of partners controls management and the board.\r\n\u201cI have full confidence in my team and in the partner structure, which lots of investors don\u2019t like,\u201d Ma said in his interview with Bloomberg. \u201cI think some day, and soon, I\u2019ll go back to teaching. This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba.\u201d\r\nMa said he sees himself as an accidental executive. He was an English teacher before moving into the business world with Alibaba\u2019s founding almost 20 years ago. He now has a net worth of more than $40 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He didn\u2019t indicate if he would give away his money or put it into a trust as other billionaires have done.\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve prepared a Jack Ma Foundation. All these things that I\u2019ve been preparing for 10 years,\u201d he said. \u201cThere\u2019s a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates. I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier.\u201d\r\nAlibaba said it couldn\u2019t immediately comment on the timing of Ma\u2019s retirement.\r\nMa was born in September 1964 to Chinese traditional musician-storytellers living in Hangzhou, an ancient capital that\u2019s become a global high-tech hub and bastion of entrepreneurship, in part because of Alibaba\u2019s base there. He started Alibaba.com in 1999 as a business-to-business marketplace, backed by $60,000 from 18 co-founders.\r\nWith savvy deals and an investment from SoftBank Group Corp., it\u2019s now morphed into a behemoth that can make or break brands. Customers use its e-commerce platforms to order products that last year saw package deliveries reach 55 million a day. Ma also controls Ant Financial, the online financial platform that runs China\u2019s largest mobile payment system and money-market fund. The business has more than 870 million users via payment system Alipay and its affiliates.\r\nAlibaba has one of the strongest management teams in corporate China and, even if he steps down, Ma is likely to still have a role in setting top level strategy, said Brock Silvers, managing director of Kaiyuan Capital.\r\n\u201cWhen Jack Ma speaks longingly of retirement from Alibaba, there\u2019s no reason not to take him at his word,\u201d said Silvers. \u201cOn a day-to-day basis, Alibaba shareholders probably have little to fear should the charismatic Ma pull back a bit further.\u201d\r\nA focus on education wouldn\u2019t 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\u2019s national university exam twice.\r\n\u201cI was not considered a good student but I improved, we keep on learning all the time. So I want to devote most my time to this,\u201d Ma said.\r\nDuring his time as chairman, he has helped guide growth at home and overseas while also spearheading Alibaba\u2019s 2014 initial public offering, the biggest ever. Ma was among the first foreign business leaders to meet with Donald Trump after his election.\r\nMa has thrived in the spotlight as he became a much sought-after guest for conferences around the world, even as tensions between China and the US have risen over trade. But he has also said in the past that he isn\u2019t happy being the wealthiest person in China, where vast personal fortunes have only emerged in recent years and are subject to intense scrutiny.\r\nAs someone who has met the leaders of the world\u2019s two largest economies, Ma sees his future philanthropy as a way to bridge the divide between them.\r\n\u201cPeople in China and America, one thing we have in common is the heart of love and respect,\u201d Ma said. \u201cThis is a common language we have. The first tech revolution caused WWI, the second caused WWII, now we are a third revolution, what\u2019s gonna happen? It should be a war against poverty, disease et cetera.\u201d\r\nIf he were to leave the company he founded in a Hangzhou apartment, it would remain controlled by the partnership structure, which enables a group of executives at Alibaba and affiliates to decide on board nominations.\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s the system which I think I have contributed to along with my team and this will be able to make the company last long,\u201d Ma said.