There are growing questions about the whereabouts of Jack Ma, billionaire founder of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, after failing to appear in the finale of an African business TV show he created.

Ma was absent as a judge for the Entrepreneurial Talent, Africa Business Heroes series, in November, just weeks after being quoted in a press release saying he was looking forward to meeting the contestants during the contest finals.

The tech titan hasn’t appeared on other public platforms, including Twitter, in weeks. His last tweet was posted on October 10th to mark his participation in Prince William’s Earthshot Prize environmental initiative – though it must be said that Ma is not a prolific tweeter.

The Financial Times first discovered his absence from Africa’s business heroes. The British newspaper quoted an Alibaba spokesman as saying: “Due to a scheduling conflict, Mr. Ma could no longer be part of the jury for the finals of the African Business Heroes at the beginning of this year (2020).”

His disappearance is linked to an open speech he gave at the Bund Summit in Shanghai in October criticizing regulators for stifling innovation and saying the Middle Kingdom banks have a “pawnshop mentality”. His address is said to have angered Chinese officials.

After the speech, the $ 37 billion IPO for fintech firm Ant Group was suspended by Ma. Ma retired from Alibaba in 2019 despite remaining an icon in the Chinese business world.