Alibaba founder Jack Ma keeps out of the spotlight and focuses his efforts on hobbies and philanthropy, according to a company executive.
“It’s deep at the moment, I talk to him every day,” said Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba, in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday. “He’s actually doing very, very well. He took up painting as a hobby, it’s actually pretty good.”
The billionaire founder has had a rocky year with the Chinese government that resulted in his falling out of the public eye. In October, Ma made negative comments about China’s financial regulators just days ahead of Ant Group’s Shanghai and Hong Kong IPOs, the world’s largest IPO. However, regulators pulled the plug on the IPO two days before it was scheduled to go ahead.
After the IPO was suspended, Ma disappeared from the spotlight, leading to rumors that he was missing. A source told CNBC at the time that Ma was just on guard and reappeared in a video for his charitable foundation later in January.
“The idea that Jack has so much power is not entirely correct. He’s just like you and me, he’s a normal person. He’s built a great company of this size, he’s done great things for society … I think today he just wants to say, ‘Hey, I want to focus on what I really want to spend time with’, those are all the hobbies , all the philanthropy. “
Regulators also launched an investigation into the company’s monopoly practices in December. In April, the government fined the company $ 2.8 billion for abusing its market dominance.
Tsai said the company is assuming the fine.
“I think you have to separate what happens to Jack and what happens to our business. Our business is in a kind of restructuring on the financial side and also under antitrust control. We had to pay a huge fine. We’re over with that, so we’re excited, “said Tsai.
In Tuesday’s CNBC interview at the Barclays Center, Tsai also reflected on the rise in racial attacks against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s a lot of that undertone of anti-Asian sentiment. If things are good, that’s fine. When things are bad for everyone, these ugly” anti-Asian attitudes come out, “Tsai said.
– CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.
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