Meet man who went missing for months, was richer than Mukesh Ambani, Adani, Ratan Tata, now to launch new business

In addition to e-commerce, Ma diversified Alibaba's interests into cloud computing, digital payments (Alipay), entertainment (Alibaba Pictures), and logistics (Cainiao Network).

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Photo: Reuters

Jack Ma's recent actions have drawn considerable attention and speculation regarding his future endeavors after taking a step back from public life amidst a government-led industry crackdown. He is now reported to have invested an initial capital of 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) in a small company called Hangzhou Ma's Kitchen Food, as per China's National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System. This company is focused on the processing and sale of agricultural produce.

Since 2020, when Beijing increased its oversight of Ma's companies, Alibaba and Ant Group Co., there has been widespread interest in his activities. Ma withdrew from the public eye after making comments that were seen as contributing to regulatory scrutiny of China's financial system. He has since been engaged in agricultural endeavors through his foundation, aligning with the Communist Party's "common prosperity" initiative, an agenda supported by several influential entrepreneurs.

Although Ma's recent public appearance at a school in Hangzhou raised the possibility of his return to public life, he has predominantly dedicated his time to agricultural and educational projects. Specifics about his new venture remain limited, with senior officials from his foundation taking on key roles in the newly established firm.

Only three years ago, Jack Ma held the title of Asia's richest person with a fortune of $61.7 billion, surpassing Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, and Gautam Adani. However, significant changes have occurred since then, and his current net worth is estimated at around $24 billion.

Born in Hangzhou, China, in 1964, Ma overcame early challenges with determination. Despite facing rejections from various job opportunities, including KFC, he remained unfazed. His life changed drastically in 1995 when he discovered the internet, leading to the founding of his first internet venture, China Pages. Alibaba, established in 1999, aimed to bridge Chinese manufacturers with global buyers.

Ma's vision expanded beyond traditional commerce, aiming to empower small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through technology. Initiatives like Taobao and Tmall transformed the shopping experience in China and globally, cementing Alibaba's dominance in the e-commerce sector.

In addition to e-commerce, Ma diversified Alibaba's interests into cloud computing, digital payments (Alipay), entertainment (Alibaba Pictures), and logistics (Cainiao Network).

However, Ma's journey has not been without obstacles. His outspoken criticism of China's regulatory system drew scrutiny, leading to the suspension of Ant Group's highly anticipated IPO in 2020.

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