Retirement

Meet the Famous Retirees of the Business World

From philanthropy to travelling, the things C-level executives opted for after retirement
Meet the Famous Retirees of the Business World
Image credit: Shutterstock
Entrepreneur Staff
Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific
4 min read

The business world is shaken up by the retirement news of Alibaba's co-founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma. The billionaire, will remain on the company’s board of directors and handover his duties to Daniel Zhang on September 10, 2019—which will also be Ma’s 55th birthday.

In a letter to Alibaba’s customers, employees and shareholders, Ma outlined his role, saying, “Today, as we mark the 19th anniversary of Alibaba, I am excited to share some news with you: with the approval of our board of directors, one year from today on September 10, 2019 which also falls on Alibaba’s 20th anniversary, Group CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed me as chairman of the board of Alibaba Group. While remaining as executive chairman in the next 12 months, I will work closely with Daniel to ensure a smooth and successful transition. Thereafter, I will stay on the Alibaba board of directors until our annual shareholders meeting in 2020.”

Ma, who started his career as an English teacher, had confessed in a recent interview with The New York Times, to take a break as the helmer of the business that he started at the age of 34 in his one-bedroom apartment.

“It is not the end of an era but "the beginning of an era,” he said in the interview which was published on 8 September. Ma now plans to devote his time and money to education.

Planning for retirement is one of the toughest decisions C-level executives have to make. Here we list some people who, like Ma, had opted for retirement in the past.

Bill Gates

In June 2008, Bill Gates stepped down from the full time CEO position of Microsoft, which he co-founded with childhood friend Paul Allen in 1975, to focus on philanthropic endeavours. Gates, then 52, decided to focus on philanthropic activities through the world’s largest charity, "The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation", which he runs with his wife Melinda. The primary aims of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and the US, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. 

Later, Gates donated large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the foundation. In 2009, Gates and Warren Buffett founded The Giving Pledge, whereby they and other billionaires pledge to give at least half of their wealth to philanthropy.

Patrick Pichette

For Patrick Pichette,  travelling the world was on the agenda after quitting his job as a chief financial officer at Google. In March 2015, the then 52-year-old, announced his retirement to "enjoy a perfectly fine midlife crisis full of bliss and beauty.”

Pichette shared his plans in a farewell note that he sent to his employees, addressing to people who struggle to strike the right balance between work and personal life, "After nearly 7 years as CFO, I will be retiring from Google to spend more time with my family. Yeah, I know you've heard that line before. We give a lot to our jobs. I certainly did."

In April 2018, he joined a Canadian venture capital firm called iNovia Capital as a general partner.

Lloyd Blankfein

After a 12 year long tenure, Goldman Sachs' 63-year-old chief executive officer and chairman, Lloyd Blankfein, announced his retirement in July. The firm made the announcement, saying, president David M. Solomon will become CEO and join the board on October 1.

In a memo sent to Goldman Sachs staff, Blankfein said that he hopes to pursue other interests in his life.

“I will never do anything that will be as much a part of me as working with all of you in such a special place,” he wrote.

Jeffrey Kindler

Jeffrey B. Kindler, chairman and chief executive officer of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer stepped down unexpectedly in December 2010. In a press release, Kindler stated that the need for more family time prompted him to announce retirement at the age of 55.

“I am excited at the opportunity to recharge my batteries, spend some rare time with my family, and prepare for the next challenge in my career,” he said. In 2013, Kindler became CEO of Centrexion Corp., a biotechnology company based in Baltimore, Maryland.

Pfizer's board named the company's head of global pharmaceuticals, Ian Read, to replace Kindler.

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