Jack Ma, the co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has taken up a teaching position at Tokyo College in Japan. This marks one of the first public roles he has taken since he disappeared from the spotlight in 2020. According to an announcement by Tokyo College on May 1, Ma will research sustainable agriculture and food production as part of his new role.
In addition to his research, Ma will share his vast knowledge on entrepreneurship, innovation, and corporate management in seminars at the college. This is a return to teaching for Ma, who was an English teacher for several years before co-founding Alibaba. He retired from the company in September 2019 and said in May 2019 that he would go back to teaching after his retirement.
Ma’s return to a public role follows his disappearance from the spotlight in 2020 after he criticized China’s financial regulatory system. His comments led to a crackdown on tech firms in China, including Alibaba, which saw its share price plummet. Ma’s wealth also took a hit, falling from $61 billion to an estimated $33 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Since his disappearance, there has been intense speculation about Ma’s whereabouts. He was spotted in Japan in November 2022, where he socialized mainly within several private members clubs, and in January 2023, he was spotted in Bangkok, Thailand, where he visited a Michelin-starred street food restaurant and watched a Muay Thai fight. In March, he returned to a school he founded in his hometown of Hangzhou, China.
Ma’s new role as a visiting professor at Tokyo College marks his return to a public-facing role. It is also a sign that he is once again comfortable being in the public eye. While it is unclear what his long-term plans are, his return to teaching suggests that he is interested in sharing his knowledge and experience with others. His new role is also a reminder of his commitment to education and his roots as a teacher before he became a billionaire.