The once outspoken Alibaba co-founder and Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma is now lying low and focussing on hobbies and philanthropy. Rumours speculating Jack Ma to have gone missing surfaced after he gave a controversial speech after which he did not show up for the final episode of his own talent show, Africa's Business Heroes in November 2020. He, however, reappeared in a video for his charitable foundation in January.
Alibaba's executive vice-chairman and co-founder Joe Tsai told CNBC that Jack Ma is lying low and that he has taken up painting as a hobby. "He's lying low right now. I talk to him every day. The idea that Jack has this enormous amount of power, I think that's not quite right. He is just like you and me, he's a normal individual. He's actually doing very, very well. He's taken up painting as a hobby, it's actually pretty good."
Ma's business empire has been under scrutiny by Beijing ever since the speech. Chinese regulators reportedly opened a probe into Alibaba's practices and Beijing fined the company with a $2.8 billion fine in April citing market dominance.
Tsai further told the website that the tech giant had moved on from the fine, "Our business is under some kind of restructuring on the financial side of things, and also in antitrust regulation. We had to pay a big fine. But we've gotten that behind us, so we're looking forward".
Jack Ma disappeared from public sight after he gave a controversial speech on October 24, and criticised China's "pawnshop financial regulators and state-owned banks." He also called for a reform of China's regulation system for stifling business innovation and likened global banking regulations to an 'old people's club'. Jack Ma's company Ant Group was supposed to make what was supposed to be the world's biggest IPO offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong. However, the regulators suspended the $37billion IPO two days before it was going to take place.
Reports had then noted that Ma was advised to remain in China after which an anti-monopoly investigation was launched into Ma's Alibaba Group Holding on Christmas Eve. Beijing also ordered Ma's financial tech company Ant Group to scale back its operations.
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