HomeBusinessJack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba, disappeared from public view in 2020. He has been living in Tokyo for the past 6 months, new reports say.
Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba, disappeared from public view in 2020. He has been living in Tokyo for the past 6 months, new reports say.
November 30, 2022
Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma now lives in Tokyo, the FT reported.
The once high-profile Ma angered Chinese authorities in 2020 and has since disappeared from public view.
Ma is still laying low in Tokyo, socializing mainly in private clubs.
Once one of China’s richest businessmen, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma mostly disappeared from the public eye two years ago after a run-in with authorities. He has now reappeared in Tokyo, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing people with direct knowledge of his whereabouts.
An outspoken teacher turned tech titan, Ma was once a high-profile jetsetter who was the face of China’s Big Tech. But he has been low since October 2020 after he gave a speech criticizing China’s financial regulatory system.
His words angered Chinese authorities, leading to intense regulatory scrutiny of his companies and a broader crackdown on technology companies in the country.
There has been intense speculation about Ma’s whereabouts since he disappeared from the limelight.
One of the latest sightings of the billionaire was in July this year when he visited Wageningen University & Research in July, the Dutch institution announced on its website.
Although he has lived in Tokyo for nearly half a year, Ma has kept a low profile in the city, socializing mainly at several private members’ clubs, according to the FT. He also spends his time in Japan visiting hot springs and rural ski resorts with his family, according to the outlet.
While based in Tokyo, Ma has made regular trips to the US and tech hub Israel, according to the FT.
Like China, Japan had some of the world’s toughest border controls during the pandemic, but visa-free travel resumed last month. In contrast, Covid lockdowns are still ongoing in China, which led to rare protests against the authorities last weekend.
The focus on Ma’s activities coincided with Beijing’s push for “shared prosperity” – a concept that the rich should share their wealth with the poor to create a more equal society. The momentum, which intensified from 2020, has hit major technology and property companies, which were forced to reduce their debt levels as authorities tried to control high house prices.
This weighed on Chinese technology and real estate firms and sent the net worth of the country’s richest into a nosedive. Ma, at its peak worth about $61 billion in October 2020, is now worth about $30.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s partly because Alibaba’s share price is down about 75% from its 2020 peak.
Ma stepped down as chairman of Alibaba in 2019. He still serves on the board of the Jack Ma Foundation, which he founded.
The foundation did not immediately respond to a request from Insider for comment.