China’s billionaire Jack Ma has finally made his first appearance after being out of the public’s eyes since October. Ma appeared in a video to congratulate teachers supported by his charitable foundation. The 50-second video eased the speculation caused by his disappearance, making the shares of the e-commerce giant jump.
Jack Ma’s Last Appearance
The Alibaba founder was last seen on October 24 when he criticized China’s regulatory system in a speech at a Shanghai conference. The speech brought Ma face to face with the regulatory officials, leading to the suspension of what was going to be history’s largest IPO of $37 billion for Alibaba’s Ant Group.
China’s Strict Regulations
China has stepped up its regulatory crackdown on anti-monopoly behavior against internet giants. Alibaba has been the target of Chinese authorities since last month. They warned Alibaba and five other tech giants to not create a barrier to entry into their markets through their dominance. The Jack Ma led business, along with other companies, have been fined for violating China’s anti-competitive rules.
Since his disappearance, people speculated if Ma had been detained or was facing legal challenges. Some also said that the ruling Communist party was trying to make an example out of Ma, showing that businessmen cannot go against regulators.
Jack Ma’s Latest Video
In Wednesday’s video, the 56-years old Jack Ma is seen congratulating dozens of rural teachers in an online ceremony that aligns with the Chinese holiday, the Laba Festival. He spoke from a room with grey walls and a big painting. Ma waved to his audience, wearing a navy sweater over a white shirt.
The video also included a scene showing Ma visiting an elementary school in Hangzhou city supported by his foundation on January 10. The entrepreneur, however, refrained from making comments on his long disappearance. Alibaba and Jack Ma’s charitable foundation both confirmed his appearance.
The Alibaba Empire
The co-founder of the tech empire has made education the biggest priority for his foundation ever since he retired from Alibaba in recent years. Jack Ma had stepped down as Alibaba’s CEO in 2019 but remains a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a group of 36 members with the authority to nominate a majority of the firm’s board of directors. Hence, he still retains control with substantial influence over Alibaba and Ant Group, promoting the ventures globally.
While his position with the regulators still remains unclear, Jack Ma’s re-emergence has given peace of mind to investors. The Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba are up 8% after the co-founder’s video circulated.