Jack Ma-Backed Seafood Start-Up Begins Online Sales

Jack Ma pictured in Thailand in early 2023 visiting a local food stall. Image credit: Jack Ma/Facebook

Jack Ma-backed start-up 1.8 Meters Marine Technology begins selling seafood in stores and online as billionaire finds post-retirement focus

A Jack Ma-backed start-up focusing on fishery and agriculture has begun online operations in a glimpse into the Alibaba founder and billionaire’s post-retirement activities.

Start-up 1.8 Meters Marine Technology is based in Hangzhou, like Alibaba, with a name that alludes to Ma’s saying that “Every mother wants her child to grow to 1.8 meters”.

The firm is a unit of 1.8 Meters Agricultural Technology, whose mission is to “make agriculture better through technological innovation”, said chief executive Hu Xiaoming on Weibo. Hu is the former chief of fintech giant Ant Group, an Alibaba spinoff.

Hu added that the company would provide better and higher-quality ingredients to consumers so that farmers can earn more.

tmall alibaba
Image credit: Alibaba Group

Agri-business focus

The unit said at a press event on Tuesday that it is now selling high-quality seafood via the online and offline stores of Alibaba Group supermarket chain Freshippo, as well as the group’s Tmall online marketplace.

The firm showed an ad for frozen yellow croaker fish that is displayed prominently on the Freshippo app’s landing page, according to local media reports.

1.8 Meters is also selling fresh mussels, both locally sourced from eastery Zhejiang province.

Ma stepped down as Alibaba’s executive chairman in 2019 on his 55th birthday and has since spent years travelling to learn about his post-retirement interest in sustainable agriculture and food production.

Image credit: Alibaba

‘Hangzhou Ma’s Kitchen Food’

Hangzhou Dajingtou No 22 Arts and Culture Co, one of the ventures set up by Ma in 2019 for investments in China, is one of the investors in 1.8 Meters.

Ma has also recently set up a company whose name translates as “Hangzhou Ma’s Kitchen Food” that sells pre-packaged food as well as handling primary processing and sales of edible agricultural products.

Ma has visited agricultural laboratories in the Netherlands, a tuna farm in Japan and a shrimp farm in Thailand to gain insights for his new projects.