The strange case of Alibaba’s Jack Ma and his three-month vanishing act
By Rob Davies and Helen Davidson
The ebullient tech tycoon embarrassed China’s leaders and went missing. Now he’s back, but seems far less outspoken
Jack Ma, chief executive of e-commerce giant Alibaba, had earned the right to make a spectacle of himself. On that day in September 2009, in front of 16,000 adoring employees packed into Hangzhou’s Yellow Dragon stadium, the eccentric but iron-willed former English teacher was celebrating. He had built a bona fide tech champion, China’s answer to Amazon, eBay and PayPal rolled into one.
Little more than a decade on, Ma is experiencing a much less triumphant moment in the spotlight. After nearly three months in which his whereabouts have been unknown, following a public show of dissent towards Beijing, he resurfaced last week, apparently much chastened.