• Jack Ma's personal wealth tumbled by $12 billion, from $62 billion to $50.9 billion since November
  • This came after he made controversial statements about Chinese financial regulators in October last year
  • Ant's planned IPO was suspended by authorities in November

Jack Ma’s net worth before he allegedly went missing was $50.9 billion. He lost billions amid the crackdown of China's government on his business activities.

Ma was last seen at an October conference in Shanghai, where he appeared to criticize Chinese financial regulators during a controversial speech. A month later, officials suspended the IPO of Ant, Alibaba’s fintech arm.

The Chinese government has accused the Alibaba founder of disregarding compliance requirements. The Ant Group’s popular and lucrative business of online lending spurred its growth and drew the attention of some officials. Under the new rules, the People’s Bank of China will now monitor Ant’s separate financial holding company, Bloomberg reported in December.

The crackdown on Ma’s businesses has effectively reduced his wealth by $12 billion, from $62 billion to $50.9 billion since November, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — around the time the 56-year-old disappeared from public view.

As of January 2021, the Hangzhou, Zhejiang native’s net worth stands at $57.9 billion, according to Forbes.

Ma was suspected to be missing after he failed to appear on the final episode of his own talent show, “Africa’s Business Heroes,” where he served as a judge, The Financial Times reported. Alibaba cited a scheduling conflict as the reason for Ma’s absence from the episode, which taped in November, Reuters reported.

Ma’s success story has been published many times and his rise after countless rejections serves as a lesson to many aspiring entrepreneurs. With a team of 18 people and $60,000, he co-founded Alibaba in 1999. Two decades later, Alibaba boasts over 100,000 employees as one of the world's largest retail and e-commerce companies.

Ma relinquished his position as executive chairman of Alibaba in September 2019, allowing Daniel Zhang to take over as the company’s new CEO. Aside from Ant and Alibaba, the former richest man in Asia has investments in Huayi Brothers Media Corporation and South China Morning Post.

Ma has had conflicts with business partners in the past. Alibaba and the Yahoo Group led by Jerry Yang struck a deal worth $1 billion. The relationship soured when Alibaba was forced to break away from the deal. Yahoo and Alibaba settled in 2011 after Ma agreed to pay at least $7 billion to Yahoo, Bloomberg reported.

The disappearance of wealthy and influential people is not new in China, according to the Wall Street Journal. While Ma's whereabouts remain unknown, the uncertainty caused a dip in Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares in the first week of January.

Jack Ma's rags-to-riches backstory has come to embody a self-confident generation of Chinese entrepreneurs ready to shake up the world
Jack Ma's rags-to-riches backstory has come to embody a self-confident generation of Chinese entrepreneurs ready to shake up the world AFP / STR