Jack Ma deciding to retire and declaring himself completely expendable from the company he built into an absolute eCommerce beast, pretty much dominated the headlines for a while.

Now that the dust has settled, we thought we’d sit around it and dissect the topic a little bit more to understand how it all works.

Here are the facts:

  • Jack Ma isn’t really that old. 54 isn’t a spring chicken, but retirement age is traditionally around 60 to 65
  • He hasn’t been the Chief Executive since 2013 but was exceedingly active in the business
  • Alibaba’s growth outside of China and Southeast Asia isn’t really that strong, but they still turnover around US$40 billion a year
  • Alibaba is an established company and has been around since 1995, so it isn’t a growing startup
  • He seems to be quite a likable guy (from what we can tell)

How do you build a startup from scratch?

So, we decided to ask around the office, to see what the people at Tech Collective think about the news and if they agree with the concept of making yourself expendable.

Arguments against it

We can’t all be super successful, likable and hard-working entrepreneurs like Jack Ma and build a company like Alibaba. Most of us fall within the middle tier of employment, which is either working in a company or startup or building a small company that works well within its means.

man facing MacBook Pro

We work to become indispensable and thus improve our standing within a company by providing enough value that it improves compensation and longevity. Jack Ma is a founder, who built Alibaba – he gets to say things like that, but it isn’t for everyone.

Can you build a business as a hobby and be great at it?

Another point is that, while we agree with his assertion that he doesn’t want to die behind a desk, there is a lot of joy from building a company ground up and watching it blossom into a successful business. Maybe, he lost that joy along the way or couldn’t compartmentalise well enough to enjoy the downtime.

Arguments for it

woman sitting on sand beside flip-flop

Have you guys been to the beach lately? It is amazing and there’s almost nothing better.

So why should I slave away at a desk and one day die of that coronary that’s been waiting to happen?

Jack Ma isn’t your everyday common man now, but he once was and now understands it is time to walk away from his baby – Alibaba. He’s achieved all he can and wants to live the rest of his life in peace.

Whether it is for you and me, is a difficult question, but being able to enjoy the fruits of your labour is hard and especially in the startup world, we’re stuck in an endless cycle of work.

He may not be you or me, but he has the right idea.


Tech Collective Talks is a new segment where we discuss matters that our partners, startup founders, and staff feel is important enough to spend time around it. We discuss it as a group and from it, we craft a story to share with our readers.

If you’ve got something on your mind, drop us a note here and we’ll see if we can include it in the next session.