Jack Ma popped up randomly on Alibaba's staff forum only to deliver a rare criticism of his company's performance

Jack Ma, cofounder of tech giant Alibaba.
Jack Ma, cofounder of tech giant Alibaba.Wang HE/Getty Images
  • Jack Ma resurfaced once again and made a surprising post on Alibaba's staff forum.

  • Responding to an employee, the Alibaba cofounder wrote that his company needs fundamental change.

  • Ma's return to the spotlight has also involved a pivot to the food and agriculture industries.

Jack Ma, cofounder of Alibaba, has been keeping a low profile since the 2020 regulatory crackdown on his business empire — which makes his sudden reappearance on Alibaba's internal forums all the more striking.

Responding to an employee's forum post on Wednesday, Ma emphasized the need for change within Alibaba in a post seen by Business Insider. Representatives of Alibaba declined to comment on the matter.

In his post, Ma wrote: "Everyone can be successful. But only those willing to reform for the sake of tomorrow, and the day after that, and an organization willing to make any sacrifice needed, are considered respectable."

Ma also encouraged his employees to contribute more constructive feedback and innovative ideas to Alibaba, citing the "AI era" as an "opportunity" and a "challenge" for everyone.

Notably, in his message, Ma congratulated Alibaba's rival Pinduoduo, the parent company of the e-commerce app Temu, praising its strategic decisions in recent years.

Alibaba currently has a market cap of $190 billion, while its competitor, Pinduoduo, is swiftly closing the gap with a market cap of $183 billion.

Ma was, at one point, the richest man in China after Alibaba broke records with its $231 billion IPO in 2014, and he was known for his outspoken views. However, he largely disappeared from the public eye for two years after China's regulatory crackdown on big tech in 2020.

In November 2020, Alibaba shelved its planned $37 billion IPO for its affiliate company Ant Group. And in December of that year, state regulators launched an antitrust probe that resulted in a record $2.8 billion fine. The company announced in May that it was splitting into six smaller entities.

Since Ma's return to the public spotlight, he has made a pivot towards food and agriculture. In May, Ma took up a teaching position in Japan's Tokyo College, focusing on sustainable agriculture, before later starting a new company in November focused on ready meals.

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