Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group, a prominent Chinese e-commerce company, has been appointed as a visiting professor at Tokyo College, an esteemed research institute affiliated with the University of Tokyo. The university made this announcement on Monday.
Ma’s research focus during his tenure will be sustainable agriculture and food production, as stated in the university’s official statement. In addition to his role as a visiting professor, Ma, who also heads the Jack Ma Foundation, a philanthropic organization, will share his extensive experience and pioneering knowledge in entrepreneurship, corporate management, and innovation with students and faculty members.
The appointment of Ma comes in the wake of Chinese regulatory scrutiny on Alibaba and other technology and internet companies. The planned initial public offering (IPO) of Alibaba’s financial affiliate, Ant Group, was halted in 2020 due to regulatory concerns. Ma had previously criticized China’s regulatory and financial systems in a speech delivered in Shanghai. Following this, he maintained a low profile and traveled overseas before recently returning to China.
Ma’s appointment as a visiting professor commenced on Monday and will extend until the end of October, according to the university’s statement.
Tokyo College, established in 2019, serves as a bridge between the University of Tokyo and international researchers and institutions, including Collège de France. The research conducted at Tokyo College encompasses various themes such as the digital revolution, Japan’s perspectives from within and outside, the humanities in 2050, and the value of life.
Ma, who founded Alibaba in the 1990s, was once recognized as China’s wealthiest individual. In Japan, he is known for his friendship with Masayoshi Son, the founder and CEO of SoftBank Group Corp.