Alibaba Group’s billionaire main founder Jack Ma, who earlier in his career taught English, is returning to public life by accepting professorships in at least four schools outside of mainland China, the South China Morning Post reported today.
Ma has kept a low profile since giving a speech critical of the Communist country’s banks in 2020. He has since attracted social media and press coverage during overseas visits that include Japan and Thailand.
The charismatic figure who no longer has any corporate roles at Chinese e-commerce heavyweight Alibaba accepted a three-year term as honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong last month; he will focus on research in finance, agriculture and entrepreneurial innovation, and has no plans to give public lectures or speeches, said the Post, which is itself owned by Alibaba Group.
Tokyo College at the University of Tokyo said this week that Ma has joined as a visiting professor, and is expected to “provide advice and support to the major research topics” as well as conduct joint research in areas of “sustainable agriculture and food production,” the Post reported. African Leadership University, which has a campus in Kigali, Rwanda, has also appointed Ma as a visiting professor, citing his “vast experience in entrepreneurship and sustainable development,” the newspaper said.
Ma, 57, has additionally been appointed as a visiting professor by Tel Aviv University in Israel. In a statement issued in late April, the school said Ma, who received an honorary doctoral degree there in 2018, was expected to contribute to “research efforts on sustainable agriculture and food,” the Post said. Ma’s new positions add to an advisory board membership he holds at prestigious Tsinghua University, the newspaper said.
Alibaba unveiled a plan to split itself into six listed companies last month. Its shares have lost nearly three quarters from a peak in October 2020 amid a crackdown on tech companies and after a record-breaking IPO by financial service arm Ant was halted.
Ma is worth $23.4 billion on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List today.
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