As we all know that a couple of days ago it was reported that Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma has not appeared before the public in over two months. Questions were raised about the high-profile Chinese entrepreneur’s whereabouts after he failed to appear for the final episode of an African talent show he created.
On Wednesday, CNBC reported that the 56-year-old is likely “laying low” and is being “less visible” purposely. The report added that Ma is likely in China’s Hangzhou city, where the Alibaba headquarter is located.
A report on CNN Business indicated that the Chinese tech tycoon has been missing from public view since the Chinese regulators stopped his Ant Group’s bumper IPO. The report added that MA has been told to maintain a “low profile” for the time being.
Why is Jack Ma laying low?
Jack Ma is known for his charismatic and outspoken nature, but he may have pushed the boundaries too far during an October 24 event, where he criticised Chinese regulators of stifling innovation.
During the conference in Shanghai, Ma had even compared Chinese banks with pawn shops. To sum it up, just a month before Ma’s Ant Group was about to launch the world’s biggest IPO, he went ahead and directly criticised the Chinese government, or the ruling Communist Party.
Beijing struck back by stopping his IPO and even summoned Ma and Ant executives to a meeting. The regulators have also asked for restructuring Ant Group’s business. The development has already cost Ma billions of dollars.
Just a month later, the Chinese government even started an anti-monopoly investigation against Alibaba, the company founded by Jack Ma. It may be noted that Jack Ma is no longer the chairman of Alibaba, but owns a large chunk of share in the company and is part of a core group responsible for selecting the majority of Alibaba’s board members.
Simply put, speaking out of turn seems to have cost Ma, with the Chinese government flexing its muscle to crack down on his businesses over the past few days — something that China’s ruling party has done in the past.
The Chinese government has a history of cracking down of big personalities. A CNN Business report suggested that the government had earlier turned up the heat on superstar actress Fan Bingbing, who had abruptly gone incognito in 2018 and appeared a year later to apologise for a tax evasion scandal.
Another instance is when real-estate tycoon Ran Zhiqiang suddenly disappeared for several months in 2020 after allegedly criticising Chinese President Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He was even jailed for 18 years on corruption charges.
Who is Jack Ma?
Jack Ma was born in 1964 as ‘Ma Yun’ to a humble family in Hangzhou city. Ma struggled hard in his early life when he worked as a guide for foreign tourists in the city. He later graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in English.
After being rejected for several jobs, Ma finally secured one at a local university to teach English. He earned a mere $15 per month. But as China opened up to entrepreneurs, many individuals like Ma grabbed the opportunity at the height of the global internet revolution.
In 1999, Ma founded Alibaba along with his wife and a group of close friends. He kept on raising funds and expanded his company that initially started off as an online B2B marketplace.
In 2014, Alibaba Group raised a mammoth $25 billion in the world’s biggest IPO and got listed on the New York Stock Exchange. While Alibaba has grown leaps and bounds over the years, Ma’s personal wealth has also increased to over $50 billion. He is now the 25th richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (BBI).
Ma is a living manifestation of the success that young home-grown Chinese entrepreneurs enjoyed, but a New York Times article argues that more number of China’s young population has turned against billionaires like Jack Ma.
The Chinese Communist Party seems to be tapping this resentment against Ma to crackdown on his vast business empire. But the main reason behind the Chinese government’s action against Ma’s business empire seems to be due to his critical comments against the country’s regulators
Source: India Today