According to an announcement made by the University on Monday, Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, will join Tokyo University as a visiting professor. Starting from today, Ma will provide guidance to students and conduct research on sustainable agriculture and food production. He will also hold seminars on entrepreneurship, innovation, management, and business startups. His appointment term will continue until October, but the university has stated that the contract is renewable on an annual basis.
The Chinese tycoon has been away from the limelight since 2020 after he criticised Chinese regulatory system that was later blamed for triggering a wide-ranging regulatory crackdown by Beijing. Ma’s appointment as a professor at the University of Tokyo could be seen as a way for him to keep a low profile while still pursuing his passion for education. It is unclear how much time he will spend teaching at the university, but his appointment is expected to bring attention to the university’s entrepreneurship program and attract more students to the school.
Alibaba founder, who stepped down from his role as the executive chairman of Alibaba in 2019, has long been interested in education and has had previous stints as a teacher and professor.
Ma’s interest in education started early in his career when he worked as an English teacher for several years after graduating from Hangzhou Normal University.
Later, he founded the Alibaba Group in 1999, which went on to become one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms. Despite his success in the business world, Ma never lost his passion for education.
In 2014, Ma founded the Jack Ma Foundation, which focuses on education, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, women’s leadership, medical support and environmental protection. Through the foundation, Ma has supported various educational initiatives, including providing scholarships to students from underprivileged backgrounds and launching programs to train teachers in rural areas of China.
Ma has also had previous experience as a professor. In 2015, he was appointed as a professor of entrepreneurship and leadership at Hupan University, a business school
that he co-founded in China. Hupan University, which is named after the apartment building where Ma and his fellow entrepreneurs started Alibaba, aims to train the next generation of entrepreneurs in China.