Chinese tech mogul Jack Ma has not been heard from in months. Ma has not made a public appearance or posted to his social media accounts since late October, according to CNN.
Ma’s failure to appear in public and his silence on social media has caught the attention of the media and sparked online rumors and speculation.
People began asking questions about Ma’s whereabouts after he failed to show up on the November 14 finale of Africa’s Business Heroes, a TV show that he created.
He failed to show up as a judge on the finale of the talent show after an October 12 press release in which he said he was looking forward to appearing on the show.
A spokesperson for Ma later released a statement explaining the tech billionaire’s absence.
“Due to a schedule conflict Mr. Ma could no longer be part of the finale judge panel of Africa’s Business Heroes earlier this year (2020),” the statement said, Deadline reported, quoting the Financial Times.
And since then, nothing has been heard from the billionaire entrepreneur who is known for his prolific tweeting habit.
He last updated his account on the Chinese Weibo social media platform on October 17, according to CNN.
Jack Ma whereabouts: Speculation on Twitter
People have been speculating on social media, including Twitter, about Ma’s alleged “disappearance.”
Where is Jack Ma? What happens when you don’t grease the party wheels, kind’a like the U.S.A lately, for sure Russia. pic.twitter.com/SdgTpywTK9
— ATOMIC MANIAC (@MLee79761272) January 4, 2021
Journalist Melissa Chan also joined the Twitter speculation about Ma’s whereabouts.
Jack Ma’s tech empire has been under regulatory scrutiny lately
Speculation about Jack Ma’s whereabouts comes after Chinese regulators blocked the IPO for Ma’s Ant Group.
Chinese regulatory authorities blocked the stock market listing for Ant Group — an affiliate of Alibaba Group — after Ma’s tech business empire came under regulatory scrutiny due to allegations of monopolistic practices.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Chinese authorities are looking to “shrink” Ma’s business empire and possibly increase their stake in it.
Where is Jack Ma?
One theory alleges that his disappearance is linked to a bold speech he made at the Bund Summit held in Shanghai earlier in October. During the speech, Ma criticized the Chinese regulators and accused them of stifling Chinese business innovation.
Shortly afterward, the regulatory authorities reportedly invited Ma and his Ant Group executives to attend “interviews.” Following the interviews, the Chinese authorities announced they were pulling the IPO for Ant Group.
Ma stepped down from his position as Alibaba’s chairman in 2019. But he continues to be Alibaba’s biggest shareholder, with a $25 billion stake, about 7.8 percent of the company’s total.
Monsters and Critics reported in March that Bill Gates stepped down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to focus more on philanthropic work.