Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman Jack Ma. IANS

Alibaba's co-founder and China's third richest, Jack Ma announced that he will be stepping down from the company on Monday, September 10 his 54th birthday in order to pursue philanthropy in education.

Ma had previously stepped down as the Chief Executive in 2013 but still played an active role in the company. According to the recent security filings, Ma owns 6.4 per cent of shares in the company and his net-worth is $36.6 billion.

The company is currently valued at $420 billion.

Jack Ma was an English teacher before he started the e-commerce giant in 1999. The company began with 18 employees and currently has over 66,000 employees.

Ma will continue to have a place on the board and will continue to mentor the management, according to Reuters.

A potential candidate who could replace Jack Ma is the current Chief Executive, Daniel Zhang.

Ma stepping back at from the markets at a very tricky time. The Chinese government has started to play a more interventionist role in company matters. The on-going trade war with the United States is also a factor in the markets. This is especially important for Alibaba since it is looking to expand overseas.

At the moment, Alibaba owns or holds stake in some of the most important industries in China. It has made its mark in media, including social media site Weibo, Hong Kong-based newspaper The South China Morning Post and has also contributed to a corporate messaging service similar to Slack.