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Jack Ma's Wealth Plummets Over 50% In Three Years After Criticizing the Chinese Government

Ma's speech, delivered shortly before Ant Group's planned listing, sparked an unprecedented crackdown on private enterprises in China.
UPDATED JUL 14, 2023
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by VCG
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by VCG

Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba and Ant Group, has experienced a significant decline in his fortune over the past few years. This decline was primarily driven by the falling valuation of Ant Group, which he co-founded but no longer controls. There's been a $4.1 billion drop in Ma's net worth over the past year, less than half of its peak value in 2020. The regulatory crackdown on Ant Group following Ma's critical speech in 2020 has further intensified scrutiny on the company and other tech firms in China, reports CNN.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Lintao Zhang
Image Source: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Jack Ma's fortune has dwindled, mainly due to the significant drop in Ant Group's valuation. His net worth currently stands at around $30 billion, a stark contrast to its peak value of $61.2 billion in 2020, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Ant Group, renowned for its Alipay digital payments system, is undergoing a share buyback, valuing the company at $78.5 billion, a significant decline of 75% from its 2020 valuation.

Ma delivered a carefully crafted speech, as per an English transcript published by Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper. Presenting himself as a "somewhat retired man," he humbly shared his "non-professional" views while acknowledging the potential "immaturity, inaccuracy or even laughability of his ideas," per Time. He tactfully incorporated quotes from China's influential President Xi Jinping.


Ma's speech, delivered shortly before Ant Group's planned listing, sparked an unprecedented crackdown on private enterprises in China. The speech triggered increased regulatory scrutiny on tech companies across the country. In his carefully crafted remarks, Ma urged the esteemed audience, which included China's financial, regulatory, and political elite, to consider the necessity of financial system reform. While implicitly criticizing Chinese regulators, Ma highlighted the prevalence of a "pawnshop mentality" in Chinese banks, emphasizing their reliance on traditional lending practices, Reuters reported. However, Ma acknowledged the merits of such practices in the development of financial institutions and the remarkable growth of the Chinese economy.

In response to Ma's speech, Chinese regulators halted Ant Group's highly anticipated $37 billion initial public offering (IPO) in November 2020 and ordered the company to undergo restructuring. Since then, Ma has maintained a low profile, spending time in Japan, where he has close ties with SoftBank CEO Masa Son, an investor in Alibaba.


Ma has also taken on a visiting professorship at a Tokyo university and increased his philanthropic endeavors. According to previous reports by CNN, in January 2023, Jack Ma voluntarily stepped down from his position of control within Ant Group. This decision was made as part of the company's efforts to undergo business restructuring in response to regulatory directives. In addition, Ant and its subsidiaries were recently fined $984 million by Chinese financial regulators for alleged violations related to consumer protection and corporate governance, signaling the end of the regulatory crackdown, per Associated Press.

In March 2023, Alibaba unveiled its plans for a comprehensive restructuring in March, recognizing the need for adaptability in the face of regulatory changes, per CNN. The company intends to split into six separate units, each operating under its own CEO and board of directors. This restructuring strategy aims to enhance agility and unlock greater value for investors in a rapidly evolving business landscape. By dividing the company into smaller, more focused units, Alibaba aims to foster innovation and efficiency within each business segment.

The independent leadership of each unit will allow for more streamlined decision-making processes, enabling faster responses to market demands and regulatory requirements. This restructuring also reflects Alibaba's commitment to comply with the evolving regulatory framework in China. By establishing separate entities, the company seeks to navigate the regulatory landscape more effectively while ensuring compliance with industry-specific regulations and fostering a responsible business environment.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by David Becker
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by David Becker

The regulatory crackdown on Ant Group has reshaped the landscape for tech companies in China and Ma has taken a backseat, focusing on philanthropy and maintaining a low profile. As Ant Group undergoes restructuring and Alibaba reorganizes its operations, the future trajectory of these companies remains uncertain amidst ongoing regulatory challenges.