Alibaba's Jack Ma reappears after months of speculation, sparks meme battles
Missing Alibaba Co-founder Jack Ma's reappearance on a live stream on Wednesday, where he appeared to be addressing rural teachers in an online event, broke the internet last night as people took to social media platforms to collectively breathe a sigh of relief.
Of course, memes followed shortly, as they do with most things on the internet.
Conspiracy theories of him having been abducted or even killed had been floating around since October last year, which was when Ma was last seen publicly, following his strong criticism of the Chinese government for their banking policies, and people were genuinely concerned for his personal safety. The Chinese authorities have a history of detaining billionaires who don't toe the country's line, with founders including Sun Dawu, Chairman of Hebei Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group, and Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai previously allegedly detained for their views.
Jack Ma's return on Wednesday not only quelled rumours about his well-being, but also helped Alibaba's stock price to climb over 4 percent yesterday in US trading.
Here's how Twitter celebrated his reappearance:
According to media reports, Chinese regulators last year had torpedoed Ant's $35 billion IPO in an effort to rein in tech giants they deemed had been gaining too much control over the country, and posed a threat to its political stability. This led investors to dump shares of Alibaba.
But after his appearance on Wednesday, Alibaba's shares climbed nearly 9 percent.
Conspiracy theories still continue to rule to roost in memeland.
But most just celebrated the fact that he was back.
Ma has been an iconic leader in China, building ecommerce giant Alibaba from the ground-up. His foray into financial services with Ant heralded a new age for financial products in the country.
Employees at Bloomberg have been keeping tabs on his personal chat page on the Terminal to see the familiar green dot next to his name that indicates he's online — and most have said that they haven't seen him even once over the last several days.
Whether he keeps making frequent appearances going forward, or stays out of the public eye, remains to be seen. Till then, we shall enjoy the memes.