Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has resigned as president of the General Association of Zhejiang Entrepreneurs, a business group he founded in his home province.
The Chinese billionaire, who has kept out of the public eye in recent years following the Chinese government’s crackdown on tech companies, reportedly transitioned to an advisory role in the group, the association said Wednesday.
Under Ma’s leadership, the influential group has been instrumental in helping a number of entrepreneurs from the province network with important connections across and outside China. During his tenure, Ma would often deliver lively speeches at the Zhejiang group’s annual year-end party. He reportedly did not attend the event this year.
Ma has avoided the limelight since the infamous speech he gave in Shanghai in 2020, in which he criticized state-owned banks and urged regulators to be more lenient on industry newcomers, such as his own Ant Group.
As a result, Chinese leader Xi Jinping ordered the cancellation of Ant’s $37 billion initial public offering and demanded a massive overhaul of the fintech group. The move was followed by a crackdown on the rest of the tech companies and entrepreneurs, including Ma.
Ma officially retired at age 55 after stepping down as Alibaba’s executive chairman in 2019. Not much has been heard from Ma for years until he was recently spotted in different countries including Spain and the Netherlands.
He was recently spotted in Japan where he has reportedly been living for at least the past three months. According to people close to him, Ma has spent some of his time observing how farmed fishery technology operates at the Kindai University’s Aquaculture Research Institute, indicating interest in sustainable agriculture.
With plans of bringing the technology from other countries home, Ma intends to continue looking into agriculture-related businesses in Southeast Asia where he is said to be headed next.