The strange case of Alibaba's Jack Ma and his three-month vanishing act

The ebullient tech tycoon embarrassed China’s leaders and went missing. Now he’s back, but seems far less outspoken

Wearing burgundy lipstick and a long peroxide wig, the diminutive entrepreneur who would soon become China’s richest man took to the stage and belted out Can You Feel the Love Tonight? from Disney’s The Lion King.

Jack Ma, chief executive of e-commerce giant Alibaba, had earned the right to make a spectacle of himself. On that day in September 2009, in front of 16,000 adoring employees packed into Hangzhou’s Yellow Dragon stadium, the eccentric but iron-willed former English teacher was celebrating. He had built a bona fide tech champion, China’s answer to Amazon, eBay and PayPal rolled into one.

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