Customers use its e-commerce platforms to order products that previous year saw package deliveries reach 55 million a day.
Ma was born in September 1964 to Chinese traditional musician-storytellers living in Hangzhou, an ancient capital that has become a global hi-tech hub and bastion of entrepreneurship, in part because of Alibaba's base there.
The retirement makes Ma one of the first founders among a generation of prominent Chinese internet entrepreneurs to step down from their companies.
Porter Erisman, a former Alibaba employee who made a documentary about the firm, "Crocodile in the Yangtze", said: "What Silicon Valley is known for, he embodies a lot of that with Chinese characteristics - that spirit of openness, risk-taking, innovation". While Ma sees himself as an accidental executive who only entered the business world with Alibaba's founding nearly 20 years ago, he has become one of China's most recognized corporate leaders.
Ma's success was evident after Alibaba's Taobao bested eBay in China, forcing the US auction site to largely withdraw from the country in 2006. His birthday also coincides with a the Chinese holiday of Teacher's Day, which celebrates educators.
He said: "There's a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates".
The charismatic co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, one of the world's biggest companies, has announced he is retiring.
Mr Ma, who will be 54 on Monday, has a net personal wealth of $40bn, making him the third richest person in China, according to the 2017 Forbes' China rich list.
"I don't think it means that much, frankly".
Alibaba was founded by 18 people led by Ma. He added that he would be spending more of his time and fortune focussed on education. Morley brought young Ma to Australia in 1985 for his first overseas trip, when he spent almost a month in Newcastle, an experience which the Chinese businessman said had "totally changed my future". The current CEO is Daniel Zhang, who took over the post in 2015, and a group of partners controls management and the board.
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 percent in the quarter ending June 30.
In 2014, he created the Jack Ma Foundation, which has worked to improve education in rural China.
Ma said he could never be as rich as Gates - but that he could retire earlier than Gates.