It was like a modern-day financial-focused version of Where's Waldo: Where is Jack Ma?
The answer came Wednesday after the Alibaba (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Report co-founder and billionaire resurfaced for the first time in nearly three months after allegedly falling out of favor with China's leadership.
Ma delivered a live-streamed video speech Wednesday to more than 100 rural Chinese teachers, marking his first public appearance since October, when the Chinese government began clamping down on his business empire.
Ma spoke briefly at an annual event he hosts to recognize rural teachers. In one video of the event circulated on social media, China’s most famous entrepreneur can be seen touring a primary school in his hometown of Hangzhou.
A former English schoolteacher, Ma spoke about the importance of reviving China’s countryside and narrowing income disparities by encouraging the return of younger talent to rural areas.
It was the first appearance and first public remarks from Ma, who had stayed out of public view since regulators suspended the highly anticipated initial public offering of his fintech company Ant Group.
Ma had kept out of public view since regulators scuttled the $35 billion IPO, tightened fintech regulations and launched a separate probe into Alibaba - all in a span of weeks.