Alibaba founder, Jack Ma is one of the world’s most successful business people who has not appeared in public for two months. His break from public view has fueled questions on social media about his current whereabouts. But Chinese state media has shared a video of him ‘virtually’ meeting a hundred rural teachers across the country on Wednesday.
Chinese state media Global Times shared a video of Ma interacting with 100 rural teachers through a video conference. “We’ll meet again after the pandemic,” he says in the clip.
#Alibaba founder Jack Ma Yun @JackMa, the English teacher turned entrepreneur, met with 100 rural teachers from across the country via video link on Wednesday. “We’ll meet again after the [COVID-19] epidemic is over,” he said to them: report pic.twitter.com/oj2JQqZGnI
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 20, 2021
Jack founded the e-commerce business Alibaba in 1999 when China had few internet users. Ma launched the online payments service Alipay, part of the Ant Group, five years later, before such businesses would be permitted in China. Both companies grew to become the biggest in their industries.
CNBC had earlier reported that contrary to speculation, Ma was not missing but was “laying low” after telling off Chinese government regulators.
“He is very likely in Hangzhou, where the headquarters of Alibaba is. We forget that he is no longer involved with the management of Alibaba. He is being less visible purposefully. And you can expect that that will continue to be the case for some time. He ran afoul of the government of the PRC (People’s Republic of China). He has pushed on that line a number of times in the past and been okay,” CNBC’s David Faber had reported quoting sources.
According to reports, His latest gambit backfired after he called regulators too conservative in the October 24 speech and urged them to be more innovative. They halted the impending stock market debut of Ant Group, an online finance platform that grew out of Alipay. Alibaba’s share price sank, possibly costing Ma his status as China’s richest tycoon.
Alibaba created a service called Alipay, a system for making payments by phone, using QR codes. It’s now used for billions of transactions and is making cash nearly obsolete in China.
But, regulators abruptly suspended the IPO, the Chinese government opened an investigation into Alibaba, and Ma has been largely out of public view after he criticized regulators.
In a speech on October 24, Ma said China’s state-regulated financial system was outdated and needed to be reformed. Chinese media reported him saying, “The race tomorrow will be a race of innovation, not regulatory capabilities.”
The speech came just before the public offering of stocks for the Ant Group. The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping personally made the decision to suspend the public offering. It would have been 2020’s biggest stock offering, raising some $37 billion. In late December, Chinese media reported regulators had started an antitrust investigation into Alibaba and that Ant Group was also told to restructure its operations.