Jack Ma leaves elite business school, report says

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Citing anonymous sources, the Financial Times Ma reported on Monday that Ma would no longer be president of Hupan, which he founded in 2015 with the vision of turning it into a “300-year-old company” that would become a global name in entrepreneurial education.
The newspaper also reported that Hupan would restructure its education program. The Hangzhou-based school had already deleted the word “university” from its name, following a government repression on establishments which are not accredited as universities but which claim the status.

The Financial Times, quoting a person close to the school, reported that Ma would hold “no high-level official titles” within the organization after its restructuring. The newspaper added that several people said Ma wanted to stay in touch with the school and could give lectures there.

Hupan and Ma’s personal foundation did not respond to requests for comments from CNN Business.

The report comes several months after Beijing began to take control of China’s internet industry. Ma himself has been at the center of these efforts – regulators launched a much anticipated IPO for his company Ant Group, a financial subsidiary of Ali Baba (BABA), last year after criticizing the country’s financial regulators and state-controlled banks. Since then, Ant Group has been forced to overhaul its operations, and Alibaba and other tech companies have been investigated for concerns about monopoly behavior and other consumer rights issues.

Ma then abandoned public view for several months, canceling appearances at scheduled events.

He’s not the only great tech executive to take a step back in recent times. Founder of ByteDance Zhang Yiming, 38, announced last week that he would step down as CEO and transition to a new role within the company to “focus on a long term strategy”. And in March, Colin Huang, the 41-year-old founder Pinduoduo (PDD) also known as Huang Zheng, said he resign as president to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a scientist or researcher.

Ma took the name Hupan, meaning “by the lake”, from the apartment he lived in when he co-founded Alibaba in 1999. Lakeside Gardens is where Alibaba’s first 18 employees worked together at the start of the business. Ma compared this experience to the Western practice of running a small business in a garage.

“Every business has its own ‘garage’ culture,” Ma told the students. during a 2016 ceremony at the school. “That’s why we named it Hupan University, to remember every entrepreneur.”

School was also famous: each candidate had to have more than three years of experience in running a business with a minimum annual income of 30 million yuan ($ 4.7 million) and 30 employees. Even qualified candidates had to go through strict interviews. Its admission rate is 2.2%, which makes it more difficult to access than at Harvard and Stanford.

Among the alumni are many notable Chinese entrepreneurs, such as Didi Chuxing Chairman Jean Liu (or Liu Qing), Li Auto founder Li Xiang, and Uxin Group founder Dai Kun.

But the political winds have shifted against Ma and her work. Along with the scrutiny of Alibaba and Ant Group, the Financial Times reported in April that Hupan was forced to suspend new registrations.
China hits Alibaba with record $ 2.8 billion fine for acting like monopoly

Some online commentators have likened Hupan to the Donglin Academy, which is said to have cultivated like-minded academics and officials in the 17th century, who then formed a famous and powerful political faction – Donglin. Such thinkers accumulated influence, leading to years of intense factional battles for power within the empire, and it is believed that the fighting ultimately led to the collapse of the Ming Dynasty.

The Financial Times reported, citing a person close to the school, that authorities feared Ma was building a network that “may be at odds with the [ruling Chinese] The objectives of the Communist Party. “



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