After two months of speculations regarding the mysterious disappearance of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, the business world heaves a sigh of relief. Looks like Ma didn’t go missing after all. According to a person familiar with the matter, Ma is ‘lying low’ for the moment. He was not seen in public ever since his dreams for Ant Group’s historic IPO ruined due to the Chinese government’s intervention. His last public appearance was in October 2020.
According to business observers, Ma’s speech in Shanghai on October 24 may have triggered his ‘disappearance’. At the venue, he sharply criticised China’s opposing stance on innovation. “Today’s economy is a remnant of the industrial age. We need to create a new one for the next generation. The current system needs to be reformed,” Ma said. The very next month, Ma had to pay a heavy price for this. The Chinese government intervened and stopped the follow-up of Ant Group’s Initial public offer (IPO) worth US $ 39.7 billion. It should be noted that the IPO was terminated 48 hours before the double listing at the Shanghai and the Hong Kong stock exchanges. At that time, critics had said that the move was stemmed by the Chinese government’s fear of Ant Group becoming a challenge to government-controlled banks. There were also rumours that the government would take over the group.
In November, Ma was scheduled to appear as the judge of the final episode of his talent show ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’, which offered a $1.5 million cash prize to African entrepreneurs. But the event was attended by an Alibaba official. It was this which lightened up rumours stating he had disappeared.
According to Bloomberg, Jack Ma lost about $ 11 billion in the last three months due to stock market crashes.
The industrial world, especially India, is relieved to know that Ma is safe. Many leading Indian startups including ‘Paytm’, ‘Zomato’ and ‘BigBasket’ are backed by Alibaba or Ant Group. Since 2015, Ma’s enterprises have invested a total of $2 Bn in Indian companies.
Jack Ma, who failed twice in primary school and thrice in middle school, couldn’t clear the university entrance exam and the police exam. He was even turned down by KFC when he approached for a job. Harvard rejected him ten times. Despite all these hardships, he fought hard and emerged as one of Asia’s richest entrepreneurs. After all, he does not give up so easily.