The following is an e-mail sent by Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., to employees just before the e-commerce company filed for what could become the largest U.S. initial public offering ever. The e-mail was written in Chinese and translated by Bloomberg News.
New opportunities, new challenges, a new journey
Dear Ali People,
In a few minutes we will officially file a listing registration statement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This means Alibaba is about to enter a new era of challenges.
Fifteen years ago, the 18 founders of Alibaba set out to create a Chinese-founded Internet company that also belonged to the world, hoping to become one of the world’s top 10 Internet companies and a business that can survive 102 years. Fifteen years have now passed, we are lucky to survive, and we are doing better than we could have imagined.
We understand that this is not because we worked hard or we are smart, but because we are fortunate to live in this era. We are thankful for the Internet, vibrant young people, the entrepreneurs and dreamers who accompanied us along the way, and the country’s reform and opening up...
We know clearly that we are alive not because of how great our strategies were or how perfectly we executed, but because we stick to the mission of “making sure there’s no difficulty to do business in the world,” stick to the “customer first” values, always believe in the future and believe that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
I believe we will be faced with all kinds of comments after the first edition of the registration statement (prospectus included) is published. During the past 15 years, we got a lot of support, praise and applause, but we never lacked for accusations, criticism, abuse and questions. The best way to respond to all this is to stick to our mission of “making sure there’s no difficulty to do business in the world,” work hard and help small businesses succeed, allowing time and results to speak for themselves.
Going public has never been our goal -- it is just an important strategy and method to achieve our mission, a gas station which can help us move forward. But we Ali people must have a clear view of the unparalleled ruthlessness and pressure behind the enormous allure of capital markets. Only a very small number of outstanding companies can maintain a gallop in the capital markets over a long time. We’ll definitely face unprecedented challenges and pressures because of size, expectations, border awareness, cultural conflicts, regional political and economic situations...Only by continuing to persevere and stick to our beliefs will we be able to survive for the next 87 years of hardship and the pressures and temptations. Not many companies have the chance to face such global challenges. We are lucky and honored to be one of them.
After the listing, we will continue to adhere to the “customer first, employee second, shareholder third” principle. We will always believe that this is the best way to show our respect and protect the interests of all parties when making tough decisions, both in the past and in the future. To some extent, going public will give us more power to help customers, support employees and protect shareholder interests.
Finally, we want remind you to strictly comply with the securities regulations and confidentiality provisions of the group. Do not make any public comment on the prospectus. All interviews will be referred to the public relations department and should be coordinated by the department.
As for stock belonging to each employee, the human resources department will issue a plan. This is a pleasant thing. We must also adhere to the principle of “live earnestly, work happily.” Please handle your wealth properly. While taking care of yourself and your family, please do something within your capacity to repay society and make some charitable contributions. Thank you.
Confucius said, “Poetry rouses, courtesy upholds, music is our crown.” We Ali people lived very difficult but also very exciting lives over the past 15 years. Not every day in the future will be ordinary or simple. If we don’t work hard today, we may not see the sun the day after tomorrow. No company can succeed at everything. While sticking to our commitment, we must change ourselves for customers, for the world, and for the future.
Jack Ma, Chairman of the Board of Directors
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at email@example.com Nicholas Wadhams, Shiyin Chen