The founder of the world’s biggest e-commerce company, Jack Ma, has been made an honourary professor of business at an elite Hong Kong university, according to the school’s announcement on Friday, April 21, 2023.
The appointment follows Ma’s public appearance in China after he fell out with the Chinese government, which began a crackdown on the billionaire and the tech industry two years ago.
The Alibaba founder has kept a low profile since 2020, when a speech he made attacking Chinese controllers was followed by the government stopping a planned IPO by the company’s subsidiary, Ant Group.
The government imposed a fine of $2.75 billion on Alibaba for alleged unfair business practices.
Per the University of Hong Kong, Ma accepted an honourary professorship from the school.
The school said it welcomed Ma sharing his wealth of knowledge and experience in business innovation and development.
The position carries a three-year term ending in March 2026. The school’s website now has the billionaire’s profile, highlighting his expertise in management and strategy.
In 2018, the school awarded Ma an honorary doctorate.
His foundation, the Jack Ma Foundation, said after his hiatus from education that the billionaire looks forward to returning to campus life.
He previously taught English for eight years at Hangzhou Dianzi University in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang before launching Alibaba.
Ma also founded a centre for entrepreneurship in 2015 in Zhejiang, along with other Chinese business top shots.
The institution had a university status but was removed following Ma’s fallout with the government.
According to Bloomberg Billionaire Index, the billionaire is worth about $33.5 billion and is ranked the 39th richest man globally.
According to a statement on Saturday, January 7, 2023, the new company’s structure means Ma’s voting rights will fall to 6.2%, CNN reports.
Before the restructuring, Ma held 50.52% of voting rights at Ant via Hangzhou Yunbo and two other entities, according to its IPO prospectus filed with stock exchanges in 2020