“Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.”
👋 Jack Ma Reappears
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, main co-founder and former exec chairman of tech and e-commerce giant Alibaba, made his first public appearance in almost three months yesterday amidst widespread speculation regarding his safety and whereabouts.
In a video posted on Chinese social media, Ma addressed rural teachers as part of an initiative by his charity foundation, which confirmed his participation on Wednesday.
It was the first time Ma had been seen in public since October 24, when he appeared to criticize Chinese regulators in a speech given at a finance summit in Shanghai. (Full translation.)
🤿 A deeper dive…
One week after the speech, Ma and two top executives at Ant Group – Alibaba’s fintech affiliate – were summoned by Chinese regulatorsto a closed-door meeting.
The next day, Ant pulled the plug on its projected $34B IPO in the Hong Kong and Shanghai markets.
The decision to call off what would have been the world’s largest IPO was reportedly made by Chinese President Xi Jinping himself, per the WSJ.
After Ant’s IPO was canceled, Chinese authorities last month launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba for alleged anti-competitive behaviors on its e-commerce platform.
Formerly China’s richest person, Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index estimates Ma’s fortune has decreased by $8B since his October 24 speech (now $53B).
🤷 Where Was Ma?
It’s not uncommon for individuals who speak out against the Chinese government to ‘disappear,’ leading many to speculate Ma had met the same fate.
However, earlier this monthCNBC reported Ma was not missing, but instead “laying low for the time being.”
Sources told the WSJ that Ma remained in China during his three-month absence from the public eye, but chose to keep a low profile. His current whereabouts remain unknown.
What the Saga of One of the World’s Richest Men Reveals About China Under Xi Jinping
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🇺🇸 Inauguration Day
Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States yesterday and Kamala Harris was sworn in as Vice President. After taking the oath of office at the Capitol, President Biden gave a 21-minute inaugural address. (Watch here | Bonus: The youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.)
Biden & Harris later participated in a parade to the White House escorted by marching bands from all branches of the military, in addition to the drum lines from both of their alma maters – the University of Delaware and Howard University, respectively. (Video.)
After arriving at the White House, Biden proceeded to sign 17 executive orders, memorandums, and proclamations representing the largest set of Inauguration Day actions in modern history. (Dig deeper.)
The Senatevoted 84-10 to confirm Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence. She marks the first confirmed cabinet-level official of the Biden Administration and the first woman to hold the position.
The evening concluded with “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute made-for-TV event hosted by Tom Hanks featuring remarks from President Biden and VP Harris, along with musical performances by John Legend, Katy Perry, Bon Jovi, and others. (Full show.)
More: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) officially became majority leader late Wednesday after the swearing in of Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock, and Alex Padilla by VP Harris. The Democratic party now controls the House, Senate, and Presidency for the first time since the 2010 election.
Correction: Yesterday we said Vice President Kamala Harris would be the first person of color to assume the role. She is actually the second – Charles Curtis, a Native American lawmaker and member of the Kaw Nation, served as vice president under Herbert Hoover from 1929-1933. Harris is the first female, Black, AND South Asian vice president, and was sworn in before President Biden on Inauguration Day.
A Message from the CEO
You might have noticed an abundance of corrections this week. On behalf of our team, I want to sincerely apologize for the screw-ups.
This is an incredible disappointment to me personally, and I know the team feels the same way. We HAVE to be better – and we will be. Our mission depends on it.
If you have any comments, questions, concerns, feedback, etc., just reply to this email and it will come directly to me. Thank you so much for your continued support.
Peter, Founder & CEO
P.S. On the bright side, even with this week, we’ve only had to run 10 total corrections in our almost two years of existence… and we’ve covered a total of 7,590 stories!
🚀 SpaceX Blasts Off
SpaceX delivered60 of its Starlink high-speed internet satellites yesterday in the company’s first launch of 2021, bringing the total number of Starlink satellites in space to over 1k. The mission’s Falcon 9 rocket – which landed again safely – was successfully reused for the eighth time, breaking a company record. (Bonus: Its first-ever landing.)
More: The company also expanded Starlink beta testing to parts of Canada and the U.K.
📈 Market Mania
All three major U.S. stock indexes closed at record highs yesterday (Dow+0.8% | S&P 500+1.4% | Nasdaq+2%). Shares of Netflix rose ~17% on its first day of trading after reporting Q4 earnings, raising its market cap by more than $30B (now $259B).
More: Netflix also confirmed its new ‘Shuffle Play’ feature will reach all users worldwide sometime in the first half of 2021. The functionality: When clicked, Netflix randomly plays content its personalization algorithms think you’ll like.
🚘 Taycan Play at that Game
Porsche announced an extension to its Taycan electric car lineup, introducing a lighter and more affordable vehicle dubbed simply, ‘Porsche Taycan.’ The car is priced at $79,900 – $24k less than the next cheapest model in the EV series, the Taycan 4S.
More: The EPA has yet to release an estimate of miles/kWh for the Porsche Taycan, which would help determine its environmental efficiency.
And to wrap it up, this gem of a first tweet from Volkswagen Group’s head honcho…
On January 13th, British Columbia Minister of Jobs Ravi Kahlon posted the picture above with the following caption:
“Proud dad moment today. My 10-year-old son saw a new kid sitting by himself. Another friend and he decided to hang out with him over lunch. He got this lovely note at the end of the day.”
We know, seriously cute. 😭
Take a second to dry your eyes, but hold on to your tissues…
After UCLA Law graduate Omarr Rambert found out that he passed the California bar exam last week, his mother – who had been by his side for moral support – was overcome with joy – check out the video.
When her family’s house caught on fire in the middle night earlier this week, 17-year-old Bianca Rivera of Waco, TX, – the lone member of her family not infected with COVID-19 – was able to smell the smoke and evacuate everyone to safety.
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