Dear Alibaba Shareholders,
Thank you for putting your trust in Alibaba and me since our IPO four years ago.
I am writing this final letter to you as Chairman of the Board of Alibaba. As I told you last month, I will be transitioning the role of Chairman to our CEO Daniel Zhang in September next year. However, as a partner in the Alibaba Partnership, shareholder and founder of the company, I will always be happy to engage in any discussion about the company at any time in the future.
As business evolves, the biggest challenge of any company is to ensure smooth leadership succession and cultural continuity. I am very proud of and grateful for what Alibaba has achieved over the past 19 years. Because we established unique systems to ensure talent development and preservation of Alibaba’s culture and values, we now have a leadership team that is ready for the future. Daniel Zhang will lead a team of young, talented people with outstanding business acumen and leadership qualities so that Alibaba will continue to bring positive impact to the world.
As for myself, I will devote more time and effort to education, philanthropy and the environment. While I will not allow myself to sit idle, this time, I will be able to spend time on choosing interesting and meaningful causes that I can be passionate about. Of course, I will forever belong to Alibaba, be grateful to Alibaba and be at Alibaba’s side to support and cheer for the company.
Alibaba will remain committed to sustainable growth for at least 102 years and our mission to “make it easy to do business anywhere.” We will take one step at a time for this ideal: by the year 2036, we aim to serve 2 billion global consumers, empower 10 million profitable businesses and create 100 million jobs.
Recently, the global economy has found itself in a state of turmoil. Uncertainties abound in trade relations, consumer trends, stock markets and the manufacturing industry. US-China trade tensions create increased risk of instability. This is the third time in Alibaba’s 19-year history that we have encountered a setback in the global economy. But our past experience tells us there are huge opportunities behind the anxiety and friction. The only question is how we should pivot. Monumental challenges give rise to monumental opportunities, and Alibaba is well-positioned because we are adept at weathering adversity.
When it gets difficult to do business, it is precisely the time to fulfill our mission to make it easy to do business anywhere.
Today’s conventional business model and regulatory framework for global trade is facing enormous challenges. This has presented the perfect opportunity for us to make globalization a priority. We have spent the past three years to develop a trading system that serves small and medium enterprises and consumers around the world. We’ve made progress toward realizing our goals of “global buy,” “global sell,” “global pay,” “global delivery” and “global travel.” To ensure small and medium enterprises, young people and women have fair access to global trade, we are also promoting inclusiveness under the “4Ts,” – trade, tourism, training and technology. I am excited that we are able to deploy Alibaba’s technology, experience and resources, thereby establishing and improving a new and inclusive global trade system for the future.
Nine years ago, Alibaba made a commitment to the development of proprietary Internet and data technology. Since then, we have truly transformed into a technology company. Our strategic focus in data science, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) have laid the foundation for us to effect revolutionary change. We aim to use our technology to create enormous value for the manufacturing, retail and financial sectors. For the past two years, we have realized value in the retail industry through empowering 200,000 brick-and-mortar stores to implement online and offline integration, making our New Retail vision possible.
The manufacturing sector is also undergoing changes. In the future, the manufacturing industry will be defined by the seamless integration of manufacturing and services. The entire industry will be reborn through customized, tailor-made and data-driven production. Alibaba is not interested in becoming a manufacturer. Instead, Alibaba aims to empower manufacturers by providing technology, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and the IoT. By doing so, we help tens of millions of manufacturing enterprises tackle problems of the future. Both Alibaba and the manufacturing industry will face challenges together, but we will also share opportunities ahead.
For the past 19 years, Alibaba has built a comprehensive and prosperous digital economy that is as strong as any ecosystem. Now, with 30,000 engineers, operating talent and the constant rollout of innovative products and services, I can feel Alibaba is embarking on an unprecedented development trajectory. Against this backdrop, confidence in our future and in ourselves has never been more important.
I want to thank you – our shareholders – for your trust and support. Alibaba will not stop at opportunities that are already apparent. We will always invest for the future. Our focus on the future means that current turbulence and instability will not likely impact us. We strongly believe that if we innovate to solve problems and create real value in the process, market opportunity and profitability will not escape us.
At this time next year, when I hand over my executive responsibilities, my status will be as an Alibaba shareholder just like each one of you. With anticipation, curiosity and pride, I look forward to joining you as we embark on our next journey together.
Alibaba Group Holding Limited