Jack Ma reappears from the shadows

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma is back in the news again after he recently reappeared for the first time in months.

The 56-year-old recently interacted with 100 rural teachers via a video meeting, according to a local government media report.

It marks the billionaire’s first appearance since late October. Ma’s public disappearance for almost three months made headlines across the world, as reports speculated that the charismatic businessman was either arrested or was maintaining a low profile after his comments against the Chinese regulator.

Jack Ma was first reported “missing” after he failed to appear as the judge on the final episode of a talent show that he created.

The sudden disappearance led to many theories, but people with knowledge about his whereabouts said that Ma was not missing but ‘laying low’ following a Chinese regulatory crackdown on his vast business empire.

Before reappearing, Jack Ma had made his last public appearance in late October at a forum in Shanghai. During the October 24 event, Ma criticised China’s regulatory system for “stifling innovation” and compared the country’s banks to “pawn shops”.

Ma’s speech did not go down well with the Chinese government regulatory authorities, who retaliated by cracking down on his business empire.

First, a $37 billion IPO of his Ant Group was stopped by Chinese authorities, who also asked Ant Group to revamp its lending business to meet the capital requirements.

This was followed a few months later as an anti-monopoly investigation was launched against Alibaba Group in December.

Charity work

While the reappearance may be good news enough for those who are intrigued by capitalisms largest beneficiaries, Ma has been known to support charity initiatives throughout his career.

The Jack Ma Foundation was founded on 15 December 2014 and has been focusing on education, entrepreneurship, women’s leadership, and the environment ever since.

The foundation aspires to be a reliable, participative, and sustainable philanthropic organisation and has so far supported projects worldwide, including the Jack Ma Rural Education Program, the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative, the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program, and Jordan’s Queen Rania Foundation.

Additionally, the foundation has also funded a number of projects in its priority areas. The Jack Ma Foundation is committed to empowering rural educators, entrepreneurs, rural children, young start-ups, and women to equip them for the future and to help build a happier, healthier, more sustainable and more inclusive society.