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Jack Ma started off as a school teacher and built China’s Amazon. But 3 years after Beijing cracked down on his tech businesses, Ma’s now turned to farming.

Jack Ma started off as a school teacher and built Alibaba. But 3 years after Beijing cracked down on his tech businesses, Ma has turned to farming.Zhang Yazi/China News Service/Getty Images

  • Jack Ma, a cofounder of Alibaba, has invested in a new agrotech company in China.

  • Ma largely vanished from public view since angering Beijing with a critical speech in October 2020.

  • During his disappearance, Ma traveled the world and studied agrotech.

Jack Ma, a cofounder of Alibaba, is leading an active retirement.

After landing teaching gigs in Hong Kong and Tokyo, the 58-year-old recently invested in a new farm-technology company, according to a Monday report from the South China Morning Post, citing information from Tianyancha, a company-information-data provider.

The agrotech startup, 1.8 Meters Marine Technology (Zhejiang) Co, was incorporated on July 20 in Hangzhou — the city is also home to Alibaba, China’s answer to Amazon. One of Ma’s investment-holdings companies, Hangzhou Dajingtou No. 22 Arts and Culture Co., has a 10% stake in the startup, per the SCMP.

This new venture comes almost three years since Ma vanished from public view. He angered the Chinese authorities after an October 2020 speech in which he criticized China’s financial-regulatory system and accused Chinese banks of operating with a “pawnshop” mentality. His words prompted intense regulatory scrutiny of his businesses and a wider crackdown on tech firms in China.

During his yearslong disappearance, Ma appeared to be traveling the world while studying agrotech.

In October 2021, Ma was in Spain learning about agriculture and technology related to environmental issues, the SCMP reported at the time, citing an unnamed source familiar with Ma’s schedule. He has also traveled to the Netherlands, Japan, and Thailand to study agrotech, per SCMP.

In May this year, Tokyo College announced that Ma would be taking up a teaching position while researching sustainable agriculture and food production.

Ma retired from Alibaba in 2019 and sits on the board of the Jack Ma Foundation. The foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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