Alibaba founder Jack Ma visits Hangzhou Yungu School in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China in this handout picture released on March 27, 2023. Hangzhou Yungu School/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Billionaire Jack Ma makes rare public appearance in China
02:56 - Source: CNN
Hong Kong CNN  — 

Jack Ma has a new job: visiting professor in Japan.

The Chinese billionaire has joined Tokyo College, under the University of Tokyo, according to a Monday statement on its website.

In his role, Ma will work with researchers, serve as an adviser to the college and participate in seminars. He will also conduct research with university staff, “especially in the field of sustainable agriculture and food production,” the school said.

The Alibaba (BABA) co-founder, who has an estimated fortune of $33 billion, has largely kept a low profile since the Chinese government began a fierce crackdown on the tech sector more than two years ago.

In October 2020, the once high-profile entrepreneur criticized China’s banks and financial regulator for being too rigid and unfriendly to small business.

Just days later, the authorities shelved a planned $37 billion IPO by Ant Group, a financial affiliate of Alibaba also founded by Ma, at the last minute.

In recent months, Beijing has signaled that its onslaught on the internet industry may be coming to an end. Newly appointed Premier Li Qiang has adopted a softer tone towards private businesses since taking office, in what many see as an attempt to bolster China’s economic recovery.

Ma’s new gig in Japan comes more than a month after he made a rare public appearance in China.

In March, he visited a school funded by the Chinese tech giant in his hometown of Hangzhou, where he was seen meeting with students and teachers. Ma’s philanthropic organization, the Jack Ma Foundation, told CNN he “travels very often in China and overseas.”

Prior to his new academic position, the tycoon had reportedly spent time in Japan, home to his friend and Alibaba investor SoftBank (SFTBF) CEO Masayoshi Son, as well as in Hong Kong.

Ma relinquished control of Ant Group in January as part of a shakeup of its shareholding structure. Since then, Alibaba has also restructured, splitting into six units.