Jack Ma, the founder of the tech multinational Alibaba Group and the face of Chinese entrepreneurship, is currently trying to avoid the public spotlight by “lying low.” The claim was made by Joe Tsai, the co-founder and the executive vice-chairman of Alibaba in his interaction with CNBC. Tsai also revealed that he spoke with Ma every day and that the Chinese entrepreneur is doing extremely well.
“He’s(Jack Ma) taken up painting as a hobby, it’s actually pretty good,” Joe Tsai further told CNBC.
It may be recalled that Jack Ma was supposed to be launching the Initial Public Offering(IPO) of the Ant Group, an affiliate of Alibaba which runs China’s biggest digital payments platform- Alipay. However, what was supposed to be the world’s biggest IPO was stopped by the Chinese financial regulators in November 2020.
What followed was the scrutiny of the entire Alibaba Group, leading to the tech conglomerate being forced to pay a fine of $2.8 billion or about 4% of the company’s 2019 revenue in China. The Chinese regulators accused Alibaba of misusing its market position. Later, the Ant Group had to announce a restructuring plan, seen as part of the efforts by the Chinese government to make the group act as a bank and not a tech company.
Some China analysts feel that the action was taken after Ma sharply criticised the Chinese financial sector by comparing traditional banks to ‘pawn shops’. On the back of Alibaba, he was becoming too powerful and outspoken for the comfort of the Chinese Communist Party.
Following action against his tech. conglomerate, Ma has chosen to remain silent and out of public view. However, Joe Tsai refuted the allegations that Ma held too much power. “He is just like you and me, he’s a normal individual,” Tsai added.
Tsai also revealed that Ma is currently spending time pursuing his hobbies and philanthropy. Speaking of the outlook for Alibaba’s future, he said that they had left the controversy behind and the company is now looking forward.