Concern is mounting over Jack Ma’s status, amid a months-long absence from the public’s eye.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma is one of the most well-known businessmen in the world, and the highest-profile entrepreneur hailing from China. Recently, however, Ma has been critical of China’s regulatory system. As a result, an estimated $37 billion IPO of Ant Group, Alibaba’s fintech venture, was suspended.
Traditionally, Chinese authorities have a low threshold for dissent, even from popular and successful businessmen, further fueling concern. Since Ma’s criticism, he even missed the final episode of a TV show where he was scheduled to appear as a judge.
“I think he’s been told to lay low,” said Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing-based tech consultancy BDA China, reports CNBC. “This is a pretty unique situation, more linked to the sheer scale of Ant and the sensitivities over financial regulation,” he said.
It remains to be seen if Ma is laying low, or if there is something more serious going on. Either way, given how respected he is, it’s a sure bet the industry will be watching closely for any sign of Ma’s reappearance.