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Ma, the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, stepped down from his post as the corporation's executive chairman in 2019.
Ma, whose fortune is estimated at $41.3 billion, committed $14.4 million from his foundation toward funding the vaccine development for coronavirus in Wuhan. He has also committed an additional $2.15 million toward developing a vaccine at Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia. Alibaba will also give $144 million toward the purchase of medical supplies for use in Wuhan.
The 55-year-old attended Hangzhou Teachers College in China and studied English and his first internet business was the Hangzhou Hope Translation Agency.
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Ma founded Alibaba in 1999, and the company broke world records with its $25 billion IPO in 2014. Alibaba is considered Amazon's rival in Asia and has customers around the globe. The businessman has amassed a huge fortune through free enterprise in a country where government intervention in industry is the norm, not the exception.
Ma has expressed interest in artificial intelligence and made an interesting prediction at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai in August 2019:
"For the next 10, 20 years, every human being, country, government should focus on reforming the education system, making sure our kids can find a job, a job that only requires three days a week, four hours a day,” Ma said. “If we don’t change the education system we are in, we will all be in trouble.
"I think because of artificial intelligence, people will have more time enjoying being human beings," Ma said.