Jack Ma, the chairman of Alibaba Group and one of the world’s richest men, was in the news again recently – while people continue to speculate on why he’s retiring at a relatively young age.
Earlier this week the high-profile business maverick officiated at the launch of a hip new bar called HHB Music House in Hangzhou, home to his Alibaba headquarters, with a group of Taiwan TV artists.
In his opening speech, Ma said he wants to provide good wine and music with good friends, and is not doing it to make money. He said he hopes the music house can provide young musicians with a venue to play.
Dressed in a casual dark T-shirt, Ma was seen singing with a middle-aged lady – a popular mainland song “Hiroshima, my love”, which won rounds of applause from the floor.
The mainland’s richest tycoon enjoyed a break with friends as he prepares for his retirement after September, when he will pass the baton at Alibaba to chief executive Daniel Zhang.
People are curious as to why Ma, 54, wants to retire early with some speculating that he hopes to follow Bill Gates, who has devoted years to charity work since leaving Microsoft.
Ma has said he wants to return to teaching English, although many expect he might play a special role for China in international politics.
The New York Times has speculated that Ma stepped down because of China’s economic slowdown and at a time when the state is making major moves at the expense of the private sector. Indeed, there have been rumors that Ma chose to step down to avoid possible political trouble linked to these developments.
Five years ago, Ma famously revealed that his dealings with government were aimed at falling in love, but not marriage, suggesting he does not want to enter politics.
Mainland media searched through the company registry list and found that Ma was neither a shareholder nor a legal representative of the bar in Hangzhou. But the six shareholders were all from Alibaba’s senior management.
The name of the bar is HHB, which could stand for Hangzhou Honey Badger, which some laud for being one of the fiercest animals in the world. It was also the name of Alibaba’s semi-conductor unit set up last September.
But Ma also said HH also stands for happiness and health, which are Alibaba’s key strategies. According to Chinese media, the pub has recently been one of the hottest clubs in Hangzhou.