Alibaba group founder Jack Ma takes up professorship

Alibaba group founder Jack Ma takes up professorship

Alibaba Group's founder and billionaire Jack Ma has taken up an invitation to be a visiting professor at Tokyo College, a new organization run by the University of Tokyo, the university said on May 1.

The appointment term for Ma finishes at the end of October this year, but the contract is renewable on an annual basis, the university added.

At the college, Ma will be engaged in areas including advising on important research themes and giving lectures on management and business start-ups.

The Tokyo College was founded in 2019 to serve as an interface between the University of Tokyo and overseas researchers and research institutions.

Earlier this year in March, Alibaba founder Jack Ma returned to China, ending a more than year-long sojourn overseas.

Ma left mainland China in late 2021 and was seen in photographs in Japan, Australia and Thailand in the following months.

The billionaire retreated from the limelight in late 2020 after criticising China's regulatory system that was later blamed for triggering a wide-ranging regulatory crackdown by Beijing.

While Chinese authorities said in recent months they had ended the crackdown and would look for ways to support the private sector, Chinese entrepreneurs said they saw Ma's decision to stay overseas as a factor hindering confidence. A report by the South China Morning Post added that he returned to China after a brief stop in Hong Kong.

Ma also relinquished control over Ant Group, a Chinese fintech giant, in an overhaul that seeks to draw a line under a wider regulatory crackdown in January this year.

Ant has since focused on overhauling its business operations to appease regulators. It’s ramped up its capital base for its consumer loan affiliate, moved to build firewalls in an ecosystem that once allowed it to direct traffic from payment platform Alipay, with a billion users, to services like wealth management and consumer lending.

Ma still holds voting rights and economic interests in the company following the change. In a filing in July 2022, affiliate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. reiterated that Ma “intends to reduce and thereafter limit his direct and indirect economic interest in Ant Group over time” to a percentage that doesn’t exceed 8.8 percent.