Jack Ma, the 56-year-old billionaire founder of Alibaba and Ant Group, has gone missing. He hasn’t been seen publicly in more than two months, Jessica Yun reported for Yahoo Finance on Sunday.
Ma has been in the spotlight recently as China has cracked down on his business empire. In late December, Chinese regulators launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba, the country’s biggest e-commerce company, sometimes referred to as “the Amazon of China.” And in November, China introduced regulations that halted what would have been a massive initial public offering for Ant Group, Ma’s fintech company.
In November, Ma was replaced as a judge on the African talent show he founded, “Africa’s Business Heroes,” the Financial Times reported. The talent show did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but an Alibaba representative said Ma could no longer be on the judging panel for the show’s finale, which was filmed in November but has not yet been released,” due to a scheduling conflict.”
“We do not have anything to add beyond that,” the representative said in response to questions about Ma’s whereabouts.
Ma stepped down as Alibaba’s chairman in 2019.
Until recently, Ma was China’s richest man, with a fortune of more than $60 billion. But Ma’s net worth has taken a $12 billion hit over the past two months as China has tightened the rules for the fintech industry. Ma is now worth $50.6 billion, making him the fourth-richest person in China, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
As speculation about Ma’s whereabouts spread, a prediction about Ma from another billionaire Chinese businessman recirculated on social media.
Last week, the Chinese government ordered Ant Group, which owns Alipay, China’s largest digital payment platform, to scale back its operations after expressing concerns that its corporate governance was “not sound.”
A representative for Ant Group did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment for this story.