Jack Ma steps out of sabbatical with memo to employees

Alex Omenye
Alex Omenye

The co-founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, has delivered a memo to employees, signaling his support for the internet behemoth’s restructuring endeavors.

This gesture, uncommon from the billionaire who has maintained a low profile in recent years, was well-received by the market, with Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares witnessing a 5% surge following the announcement.

The memo, disseminated within an internal company forum, marks the one-year anniversary of Alibaba’s decision to reorganize into six distinct units, marking the most significant shake-up in its 25-year history.

Since then, Alibaba has navigated through a series of challenges, including the appointment of a new CEO, the announcement and subsequent abandonment of listings for its cloud and logistics units, and increased competition in the e-commerce sector from formidable adversaries such as PDD Holdings and Douyin, the Chinese counterpart of TikTok, owned by ByteDance.

In the one-page memo, Ma commended the leadership of CEO Eddie Wu and Chairman Joe Tsai, asserting that the division into six units has enhanced decision-making agility and customer-centricity. He also acknowledged Alibaba’s past mistakes, emphasizing the importance of timely rectification and future reforms.

Reflecting on the resilience of the Alibaba team amidst internal and external pressures, Ma expressed confidence in the company’s trajectory for the future. Notably, this memo marks Ma’s most extensive communication on Alibaba’s intranet in five years, underscoring its significance within the organization.

While Alibaba did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the memo, industry observers interpreted it as an effort to restore both internal and external confidence in Alibaba’s leadership, particularly amidst mounting skepticism in 2024.

Over the past year, Alibaba’s shares have experienced a 27% decline, with a market capitalization standing at approximately $178 billion. This decline has allowed rivals like PDD to narrow the gap, with a market value of $160 billion.

Ma, renowned as China’s preeminent tech entrepreneur, retreated from the public eye following his public critique of Chinese regulators in October 2020, which led to the suspension of Ant Group’s massive listing, a company he also founded.

Subsequent regulatory crackdowns on the Chinese tech sector, including a substantial fine imposed on Alibaba, prompted Ma to withdraw further from public engagements.

Currently, Ma primarily resides abroad, notably spending considerable time in Japan, where he serves as a visiting professor at Tokyo College, affiliated with the University of Tokyo.

Share this Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *