Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma has made his first public appearance since “disappearing” in October sending shares in the company jumping nearly nine per cent.
Ma met with over 100 rural teachers across China via a live video chat this morning, putting an end to rife speculation he had either left China or had been detained by the government.
The Chinese billionaire, who was recently overtaken as China’s richest man, had been absent from the public eye since October when he made a “fiercely critical” speech about China’s regulatory system.
This instigated a firm and near immediate retaliation from the government which has launched investigations, fines and clampdowns on Ma’s numerous businesses, causing Alibaba’s shares to drop more than 25 per cent since October wiping more than $10 billion off of its market value.
Speculation over his whereabouts was exacerbated when Ma failed to appear on the final episode of Africa’s Business Heroes, a talent show which he created and regularly appeared in and is run by the Jack Ma Foundation.
However, the tech entrepreneur has now resurfaced in a 50-second video in which he spoke directly to camera addressing teachers receiving the Jack Ma Rural Teachers Award.
While he did not address he absence in the speech, he told teachers: “We cannot meet in Sanya due to the epidemic. When the epidemic is over, we must find time to make up for everyone’s trip to Sanya, and then we will meet again!”