Xi has tightened control over businesses, especially ones that allow people to communicate over the Internet, and gone after billionaires who have mismanaged companies, allegedly committed crimes, such as bribery, or run afoul of Chinese politics.
Ma was quoted as telling the paper he would step down on September 10 to pursue philanthropy in education. Ma will remain on Alibaba's board of directors and continue to mentor the company's management. His birthday also coincides with a the Chinese holiday of Teacher's Day, which celebrates educators.
Jack Ma or Ma Yun, left, Chairman of Alibaba Group, talks with Malcolm Turnbull during his visit at headquarters of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Ma said the move will be "the beginning of an era" and revealed that he may now focus on education, which he "loves". He said the reason he's leaving is to pursue philanthropic endeavors focused on education.
Ma said he could never be as rich as Gates - but that he could retire earlier than Gates. Initially developed as a business-to-business e-commerce solution. Firms including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JD.com have flourished in recent years, growing to almost rival American internet behemoths like Amazon and Google in their size, scope and ambition.
Ma, 53, is also China's wealthiest individual.
Alibaba started as a business-to-business marketplace, but had enormous growth when it started selling to consumers.
Born into a poor family in Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province, Ma became a university teacher but gave the job up after discovering the internet.
Ma is part of a generation of billionaire entrepreneurs who made their fortunes as China embraced the digital age, creating some of the country's largest and most successful companies in the space of little more than a decade.
Ma is following a similar path as Bill Gates, who has dedicated himself to philanthropy after retirement, and has cited Microsoft's co-founder as an inspiration in an interview with Bloomberg TV recently.