• Alibaba has hosted a mass wedding for 102 couples every year since 2006.
  • Alibaba founder Jack Ma usually officiated the ceremony, which is part of its Ali Day festivities.
  • But this year, Ma apparently didn't attend, raising further questions about his role with the company.

Alibaba apparently thinks that workplaces are an appropriate place to find love, and it supports this notion by holding a mass wedding ceremony for 102 couples every year on May 10. Alibaba founder Jack Ma typically attends the ceremony, but this year he was nowhere to be found.  

No matter, the company held a lilac-themed mass wedding ceremony on Tuesday for its workers at its campus in Hangzhou, China. The group wedding was first introduced in 2006 as part of Ali Day, a company day out for its employees. Ali Day and the marriage spectacle, held on May 10 every year, are long-standing traditions that Alibaba says are meant to "commemorate the resilience and spirit of Alibaba employees." 

Despite a persistent drizzle, brides and grooms marched on a purple carpet to the ceremony grounds, similar to the red-carpet treatment that couples received in previous years' ceremonies.

The idea to wed — specifically — 102 couples came directly from Ma, who previously said that he hoped Alibaba would last for 102 years. For the newlyweds to get married on Ali Day, at least one-half of each couple be an Alibaba employee, a company spokesperson told Insider.

Every year, the event draws hundreds of hopeful applicants. According to a screenshot shared by a Weibo user earlier this year, 1,206 couples applied to walk down the aisle as a part of this year's ceremony.

This year, more than 100,000 users tuned in online to watch Ali Day celebrations unfold live, Alibaba said in a blog post.

However, despite Alibaba upholding long-standing traditions for the group wedding event, there was one noticeable difference this year: founder Jack Ma was nowhere to be seen.

He wasn't visible in photos and videos taken of the event, and Chinese media reports did not mention his presence.

Ma had officiated the mass ceremony in the past. However, a company spokesperson told Insider that Daniel Zhang, the current chairman and CEO of Alibaba, has fulfilled that duty for the past three years. 

Ma even managed to appear at the 2021 Ali Day events, even while facing an intense crackdown on his companies that saw him retreating from the public spotlight

Ma's apparent absence at this year's Ali Day will likely raise further questions about his role with the company.

Ma stepped down as CEO in 2013. He relinquished his role as chair in 2019 and gave up his seat on Alibaba's board in 2020. 

Despite stepping away from public leadership roles, Ma still wields considerable control over the conglomerate. He is still a member of Alibaba Partnership, a committee that elects the bulk of Alibaba's board members.

Observers continue to keep a lookout for Ma. Last week, interest in his whereabouts boiled over when rumors of someone surnamed Ma being under arrest caused Alibaba's stock price to crash momentarily. That rumor has since been debunked. 

Read the original article on Business Insider