This week will see a low profile visit to Israel by one of the world's most senior technology figures - Chinese tech giant Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma who is on his way to the country.
Members of the entourage accompanying Ma are keeping quiet about his program in Israel but "Globes" has learned about some of his plans. He will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and in contrast to Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk who set up a spontaneous meeting with Netanyahu in March when he was in Israel, Ma's meeting has been planned in advance. However, both the Prime Minister's Office and Alibaba declined to comment.
Ma is also expected to meet Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen on Wednesday. Both meetings will be closed to the media and government ministers are not prepared to disclose details about what will be discussed.
Ma can also be expected to visit Alibaba's recently opened Israel development center, which is based around its acquisition of Israeli QR code startup Visualead. In November 2017, "Globes" revealed that Alibaba had acquired Visualead for several tens of millions of dollars as part of its global plan to set up development centers around the world.
Ma will also receive an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University on Thursday evening. Earlier on the same day, he will meet students and Tel Aviv University graduates in a question and answer session. Tel Aviv University said that Ma will meet the university's management and leading researchers in such areas as artificial intelligence, computer sciences and engineering.
So far as is known this will be Ma's first visit to Israel although he has previously met with Netanyahu in March 2017 when the Israeli prime minister visited China and tried to persuade him to invest in Israel. The two men also met in Davos in 2016.
In addition to its acquisition of Visualead, Alibaba has invested in several Israeli startups including $5.3 million in Twiggle, which has developed a search engine for shopping based on NLP natural language processing. Alibaba is also collaborating with Israeli startup SQream, which is developing databank management technology.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 29, 2018
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