The China state media published a list of China’s leading tech giants on 2nd February 2021; however Jack Ma’s absence in the list was striking as the tycoon did not make it the top list of Shanghai Securities News. Instead, Ali Baba’s archrival Pony M was lauded in the Shanghai Securities News and rewarded for ‘rewriting the mobile age’ with Tencent Holdings Ltd. The list also included BYD Co. Ltd. Chairman Wang Chuanfu, Xiaomi Corporation co-founder Lei Jun, and Huawei’s founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei.
An official newspaper of Beijing ran this brief editorial on the same day Alibaba was set to unveil its latest quarterly earnings. This brief editorial may have helped assuage Tencent’s fears of getting caught up in the broader industrial crackdown as the focus is now on Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group Co., which is an affiliate company of the Alibaba Group. The generation of entrepreneurs in China have emerged from very rigid structures of the old economic system. Their rising could be possible due to their tenacious desire to rise from poverty and a strong passion to achieve their ambitions. These entrepreneurs have also breathed new life into the economic reforms in China in doing so.
Recently, China’s outspoken tycoon Jack Ma had a conflict with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after it flayed the ‘pawnshop’ financial regulatory department and government banks in an agitational speech in Shanghai in October last year. Furthermore, in his speech, Jack Ma demanded for reform of the ongoing system that has stifled further innovation in business, and likened the banking regulations to an ‘old people’s club’.
While shares of Xiaomi and Tencent rose over 2% on Tuesday, Alibaba’s share price sank significantly, possibly lowering Jack Ma’s status as China’s richest business tycoon. Jack – a former English teacher – founded Alibaba in 1999, when China had a very few Internet users. After five years, Alipay – online payment service was launched – which was before the regulatory department allowed such businesses. Thus, both long shots started to dominate their respective industries. However, his latest strategy backfired after he called regulators old-school in his speech. This impacted Ant Group’s impending stock market debut, which was a Fintech platform related to Alipay. In November 2020, the Chinese regulatory department suspended Ant Group’s market debut, which would have been that year’s biggest raising of approximately US$ 37 Billion.
Currently, the outspoken Jack Ma seems to be staying out of the limelight by cancelling TV appearances and avoiding social media platforms as well. His last seen post on Sina Weibo account was on 17 October 2020. However, China’s state media shared a video of his virtual meeting with rural teachers across China. His actions have left the country in a flurry of speculation about what has actually happened to Jack Ma.
Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba’s chairman since 2019, is still a part of Alibaba Group’s partnership and among the biggest shareholders in the company. He also retains the right to nominate a majority of its board of directors. When Jack Ma irked the regulators with his criticizing speech at the Shanghai business conference attended by the regulators, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan was also present. This incident clashed with the marathon campaign by the ruling party in an attempt to reduce surging debts and concerns regarding financial crisis. Additionally, the international rating agencies lowered Beijing’s credit rating for government borrowings. Later, Alibaba’s CEO attempted to repair relations by praising regulators, but Jack Ma said nothing.