The disappearance of the founder of one of the largest e-commerce companies has triggered many conspiracy theories with netizens wondering about his whereabouts. Reportedly, it’s been 2 months since Alibaba’s founder has not been seen in the public, the same time he had hit out on the national regulators through his blunt speech.
Some conspiracy theories suggest that Ma has been put under house arrest while others suggest that he has been arrested by the Chinese regulators. China has a history of not unveiling information on arrests of big personalities, so there are chances of these theories turning true. Well, these are just speculations.
The point to note here is that it’s not the first time that Chinese billionaires have suddenly disappeared, this has happened a few times before especially during China’s infamous anti-corruption drive between 2016 and 2017 when many of them were arrested and the whereabouts of a few are still not known. It was in the month of December 2020 when China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) had started an investigation on Alibaba Group for alleged monopoly conduct.
It was in September 2018 that Jack Ma had announced his retirement and had decided to devote his time to philanthropy, travelling and rural education and said “Alibaba is but one of my dreams. I’m still young” in an event, so there is a slight possibility that maybe the billionaire is keeping a low profile and has hit the road to achieve his other dreams.
While Jack Ma is missing the Chinese authorities are already tightening a grip over his business empire, including the Ant Group whose $37 billion IPO was suspended after receiving the green light from the Chinese Securities watchdog.
The scrutiny has led to a slump in Alibaba’s shares by a quarter since the peak, wiping over $10 billion from his fortune and resulting him to fall to the third place on the list of China’s wealthiest people.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Ma’s current net worth is estimated at $50.1 billion.