5 Words of Wisdom from Jack Ma’s Retirement Letter

The e-commerce guru shares the secret of success behind Alibaba.

Jack Ma, co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba (as well as the richest man in China!), recently announced that he will retire from Alibaba Group, the company he founded almost 20 years ago. His retirement will happen in the next 12 months as he works closely with his successor Group CEO Daniel Zhang to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

Having built Alibaba from a small startup to the multi-billion company it is now, Jack Ma is definitely someone to look up to! Did you also know that the self-made billionaire was just a teacher when he started the company? Plus, he didn’t have any training at all in commerce or programming. “The only thing I do is to learn and share. I work as an entrepreneur in the same way as being a teacher,” Ma said during a conference in November.

With his education background, the business leader is known to deliver words of wisdom. His retirement letter to customers and shareholders is filled with them. Here are the best ones.

Success cannot depend on just one person. It is a collaborative effort.
“A sustainable Alibaba would have to be built on sound governance, culture-centric philosophy, and consistency in developing talent. No company can rely solely on its founders. Of all people, I should know that. Because of physical limits on one’s ability and energy, no one can shoulder the responsibilities of chairman and CEO forever.”

The key to long-term success? Talent development and growth.
“We believed the only way to solve the problem of corporate leadership succession was to develop a system of governance based on unique culture and mechanisms for developing consistent talent and successors. For the last 10 years, we kept working on these ingredients.”

Even a successful company like Alibaba relies on its people to take its vision forward.
“Alibaba is amazing not because of our business or scale or accomplishments. The best thing about Alibaba is that we come together under a common mission and vision. Our partnership system, unique culture and talented team have laid a strong foundation for the legacy of our company.”

Keep on learning!
“The world is big and I am still young, so I want to try new things – because what if new dreams can be realised?”

And finally...
“Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”

You can read a re-formatted version of Jack Ma’s letter here.

Photo via YiCai Global

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