Category Archives: Excellence

알리바바(Alibaba) CEO의 퇴임 서한

중국의 인터넷 기업인 알리바바의 CEO인 Jack Ma가 퇴임한다. 48세인 그가 결정을 내리며 작성한 편지의 내용이 마음에 들어 스크랩한다. 평소에 잘 알던 이의 이야기는 아니지만, 마음에 와 닿는 구절들이 있어서 밑줄을 슥슥. 언제나 급하게 헐떡이며 자신을 소모하고 싶은 적은 없었지만, 요즘은 특히 호흡을 살펴 좀 더 차분하고 깊게 해야 할 시점인 것 같다. 48세가 늦었다고 은퇴하는 IT산업이란건, 지금 이 순간에 바로 꿈을 펼쳐 볼 기회의 공간이란 이야기겠지.

월스트리트 저널에 올라온 관련 블로그 기사를 읽고 싶다면 이 곳을 참조하자.

Fellow Aliren,

I’ve looked forward to writing this letter for a long time, and this moment has finally arrived…

On May 10th 2013, I will no longer assume the role of Alibaba Group CEO. I will fully dedicate myself to the role of executive chairman of Alibaba Group.

At this moment, I just want to say this to all my colleagues, friends and partners: thank you. Thank you for supporting me for 14 years. I know that I have my own personality and ways of doing things, so it is your tolerance and trust, especially what you’ve built with your full dedication, that have given me the most precious and unforgettable 14 years of my life.

9 years ago when we first started Taobao, an investor friend had a talk with me: he hoped that one day I would step down as CEO. He didn’t believe that I would be a qualified CEO. I agreed with him☺ However, I knew back then that neither I nor the company was ready. From that moment on, my team and I have been working hard towards this day. We may not become the most successful company, but we hope to be the most long-lasting and dynamic company.

Over the past 14 years, Alibaba’s business results have made me proud, but the pleasant surprise was the growth of the people at Alibaba. Our unique culture has bred a group of Alibaba people with unique charm. As a founder CEO, stepping down as CEO is a difficult decision, for this could be confounding especially for someone of my age who should be at the height of his career. It’s not because I wanted to take things easy (though the job of Alibaba CEO is no easy task), it’s because I see that Alibaba’s young people have better, more brilliant, dreams than mine, and they are more capable of building a future that belongs to them.

I am fortunate to have been through 14 years of entrepreneurial experience, which allows me to clearly understand what I want, what I am capable of, and what I must let go of…. From the bottom of my heart, I admire the young people of today. At 48, I am no longer “young” for the Internet business. The next generation of Alibaba people are better equipped to manage an Internet ecosystem like ours. I believe they understand the future better than I do so they are more adept at creating a better tomorrow.

The Internet belongs to young people. This year, most of the Alibaba leaders who were born in the 1960s will retreat from management and execution roles as we hand over leadership responsibility to colleagues from the 70s and 80s generations. Because, we believe that they understand the future better than us, and they have a better chance at seizing the future.

Everybody must be concerned about who the future CEO will be. Succeeding a founder CEO is a difficult job, especially taking over from a CEO with such a distinct personality who is very “ET”-like; this requires great courage and the willingness to make sacrifices. Alibaba is fortunate to have many of such talents and each one of them has the rare qualities of charisma and style that you see in leaders. They will bring different elements and qualities to a future Alibaba. However, convincing them to make such a huge sacrifice and commitment is no easy feat; this is something I’ve considered for more than a year. That’s why I am announcing my stepping back as CEO a few months in advance – I want to encourage our young leaders to step forward to ensure a smooth transition. Don’t worry, we are confident that we will be able to announce a new CEO on May 10th.

Fellow Aliren, at our founding Alibaba aspired to 102 years of sustained development, and now we still have 88 years ahead of us. Without a healthy and sound succession system for young people, it is difficult to imagine that we will make it to that day. Today is just the first of countless leadership rotations and changes that will take place in the future. Today, Alibaba already has the capability, strength and responsibility to implement a good succession system.

Thank you once again for all the trust you have placed in me. Even if it’s not May 10, 2013, one day I will have to leave my role as CEO. In the future, my responsibilities as chairman will focus on strategic issues under the guidance of our board of directors, and I will assist the CEO in the development of our culture and talent, as well as helping our team to strengthen our social responsibility efforts.

I believe that doing what makes oneself happy, staying within one’s own limits and being a good partner to one’s more capable colleagues, is the right thing for me to do.

If not now, when? If not me, who?

Aliren, GO!

Jack Ma

CEO, Alibaba Group
Chairman, Alibaba Group