Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., has joined a research institute of the University of Tokyo as a visiting professor, the university said Monday.
The announcement came as the entrepreneur has kept a low profile for a few years since criticizing Chinese financial authorities in October 2020, after which Alibaba and its affiliate Ant Group faced regulatory obstacles.
According to the university, Ma, whose contract as Tokyo College professor runs until the end of October, will conduct joint research and projects with University of Tokyo researchers, focusing on sustainable agriculture and food production.
He is also expected to share his experience and knowledge on entrepreneurship, corporate management and innovation with students through seminars, it said.
Ma, a former English teacher, founded the Alibaba Group in 1999, growing it into one of the world’s largest e-commerce businesses. He served as its executive chairman until 2019 when he left.
While largely disappearing from public view in recent years, he has been spotted in various countries, including Japan. The Financial Times reported in November that he had been living in central Tokyo for almost half a year amid Beijing’s crackdown on the country’s technology sector.
Tokyo College was founded in 2019. Its activities include research collaboration and knowledge sharing with researchers and intellectuals from inside and outside Japan.