SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Alibaba founder Jack Ma, the billionaire who has run the Chinese e-commerce giant since 1999, says he’s getting “a bit old” for the Internet.
That’s what the outgoing chief executive told a charitable event in Santa Monica Thursday as he pledged $5 million toward a China-based fund that supports environmental conservation projects outside China.
“I’m young for new things but I’m a bit old for the Internet,” the 48-year-old said.
Ma’s gift doubles the amount raised for the China Global Conservation Fund, an offshoot of the Arlington, Va.-based organization, The Nature Conservancy.
Ma steps down as CEO from Alibaba Group on May 10, ahead of a widely expected initial public offering of stock that could create a windfall for Yahoo Inc., which owns nearly a quarter of the company.
Ma said that he prepared for his retirement for the last nine years and is looking forward to working on philanthropic causes such as environmental conservation.
He said he was inspired to act after visiting his home in China six years ago. A lake he nearly drowned in as a boy had mostly dried up. He also spoke to a farmer who used chemicals on produce that he wouldn’t feed his family. “I know something is wrong,” Ma said.
Ma will chair the Chinese board overseeing the fund once he steps down as CEO.