For years now, Jack Ma has dominated the list of China’s richest people. He is the billionaire founder of Alibaba, which had the biggest IPO until 2019, when Saudi Aramco took the title. He is also the founder of Ant Group, which was scheduled to make its IPO before being suspended. Recently, Ma was instrumental to China’s financial regulatory system in Shanghai on 24 October. She declared the rules to be bad for promoting innovation. He also called for regulators who implement the system “an old man’s club.” Before he exited, Ant Group’s IPO was off the table. In a press release regarding the postponement, the Shanghai Stock Exchange said the Ant Group’s IPO was pulled due to “major issues”, which could cause the company to “not meet the terms of the listing or disclosure requirements”.
There is no sign of Jack Ma anywhere since late October. He is absent from his TV talent show. His profile has been removed from judging webpages and promotional videos for the “Business Heroes” television show in Africa, the country’s “Shark Tank” version. The season finale happened without Ma, despite the fact that a few weeks before the season finale, he tweeted that he could not wait to meet the contestants. Talking about Twitter, this was the last tweet from Jack Ma’s account. He usually tweeted several times a day.
In early November, Beijing began to crack down on the platform economy, risking the fate of the country’s largest e-commerce site. Authorities are investigating Alibaba on antitrust issues. The government is looking into Alibaba’s practice of forcing its vendors to sign exclusivity contracts. To be clear, this is standard market practice, regardless of how Ma’s competitors or China’s state administrations for market regulation feel about it.
Ma has become the target of the Chinese government as he advocates for an open, market-driven economy. Many believe that the cancellation of the Ant Group IPO is a retaliatory move to its speech against China trying to stop the launch and development of startups. The Ant Group has been ordered to rejoin its financial governance to bring the IPO back on track.
Ma had a very large public profile globally. He tried to ease tensions between China and the US by donating 2,000 ventilators to New York during the Kovid-19 crisis. His disappearance from the public eye and from his social media accounts is truly bizarre. Beijing has a history of taking ruthless actions against its critics. Back in March 2020, Ren Zhejiang, a property developer, went missing when he publicly called President Xi Jingling a prankster for the way he handled the coronovirus epidemic. Six months after his disappearance, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for corruption offenses. Billionaire financier Xian Jianhua was moved from a hotel in Hong Kong in 2017 to the mainland. Three years later, there is still no word on his place.
There is no current evidence of physical harm to Ma, but where in the world is Jack Ma?