Alibaba founder Jack Ma is now a college professor in Japan
Jack Ma, the billionaire co-founder of Alibaba who vanished from the public eye in 2020, has recently accepted a teaching position in Japan. This marks one of the first public positions he has undertaken since his abrupt disappearance from the spotlight last year.
According to an announcement on Monday, Tokyo College, part of the University of Tokyo, said that the Chinese billionaire has become a visiting professor at the institution. In his new role, Ma will engage in research concerning sustainable agriculture and food production.
Ma will also collaborate with university researchers, advise the college, and contribute to seminars. Additionally, he will engage in research alongside university personnel, “especially in the field of sustainable agriculture and food production,” Tokyo College said in a statement on its website.
For over two years now, the Alibaba co-founder, who has an estimated net worth of $33 billion, has maintained a low profile amid a harsh Chinese government crackdown on the technology industry. He stepped down as executive chairman of Alibaba, China’s largest company, after a 20-year reign. The former English teacher steps down on his 55th birthday after amassing a $41.8 billion fortune.
Born on September 10, 1964, as Jack Ma, or Ma Yun, Ma began studying English at a young age by conversing with English speakers at Hangzhou international hotel. He would ride 70 miles on his bicycle to give tourists tours of the area to practice his English for nine years. He became pen pals with one of those foreigners, who nicknamed him “Jack” because he found it hard to pronounce his Chinese name.
Ma had no experience with computers or coding, but he was captivated by the internet when he used it for the first time during a trip to the US in 1995. He had recently started a translation business and made the trip to help a Chinese firm recover a payment. Ma’s first online search was “beer,” but he was surprised to find that no Chinese beers turned up in the results. It was then that he decided to found an internet company for China.