Alibaba’s CEO and founder, Jack Ma visited Israel for the first time last week, where, in addition to receiving an Honorary Doctorate he also took the opportunity to scout the local market for potential investments. Mr. Ma was accompanied by a delegation of senior executives from Alibaba. Ma met with the Jerusalem-based international venture capital fund JVP, of which Alibaba became a limited partner in 2015. Ma also visited the the offices of Israeli startup OrCam, established by Mobileye’s founders Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram. OrCam develops artificial intelligence devices which aim to help the blind and visually impaired. During his visit, Ma also met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and discussed the vast investment opportunities in Israel. Alibaba is no stranger to the opportunities in Israel and has already made significant investments in a number of promising Israeli starups including Nexar, an AI-based dashboard camera app that monitors road safety and Lumus, an augmented reality lens maker.
On Thursday, as part of his visit to Tel Aviv University, Ma met with researchers in the fields of artificial intelligence, engineering and computer sciences. After being presented with his degree Ma told the student body that Israel was a “miracle” that represents “wisdom, innovation, and persistence”. He praised the people in Israel as being born to believe and to never give up; an attitude that he himself holds dear and carries with him in his business and personal life.