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Note of Support from Founder Jack Ma Lifts Alibaba Shares 5%

Ma praised the leadership of Eddie Wu and Joe Tsai. He said the split into six units helped streamline decision-making, so Alibaba is more agile and customer-focused

Chinese financial authorities are set to issue a fine of at least 8 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) on Ant Group, sources have revealed.
Jack Ma has stayed out of the limelight since his infamous speech in late 2020 and the crackdown by regulators on his and many other tech companies in China. File photo from 2015 by Reuters.


A note of support from Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma helped lift the e-commerce giant’s shares by 5% on Wednesday.

The long memo to employees, on an internal company forum, endorsed the internet giant’s restructuring efforts, a year after Alibaba decided to split into six units – the biggest shake-up in the group’s 25-year history.

It was rare move from the billionaire, who has kept a low profile and avoided the media spotlight in recent years.


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The e-commerce conglomerate has had a tumultuous time since Ma stood down, installing a new CEO, announcing and then abandoning the listings of its cloud and logistics units.

At the same time, it has lost ground in e-commerce to low-cost rivals such as PDD Holdings and ByteDance-owned Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.


Praises new leaders

In the post, which was roughly a page long, Ma praised the leadership of CEO Eddie Wu and chairman Joe Tsai and said the split into six divisions had helped streamline decision-making, making Alibaba more agile and customer-focused.

He also said Alibaba had made many mistakes in the past.

“We must not only have the courage to admit and correct yesterday’s problems in a timely manner but also make reforms for the future,” he said, according to a copy of the post seen by Reuters and verified by a source who had viewed it on Alibaba’s intranet.

“This year, amid the many doubts and pressures on the company internally and externally, I saw the birth of a strong and brave Alibaba team,” he added.

The post was the longest made by Ma, who owns roughly 4% of Alibaba, on the company’s intranet in five years. Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the post.


‘Bid to restore confidence’

Jacob Cooke, CEO of e-commerce consultancy WPIC Marketing + Technologies, said he believed the letter was aimed at “restoring internal and external confidence in Alibaba’s leadership” given that “the chorus of negative voices seems to have risen in 2024.”

Alibaba’s shares have declined 27% in the past 12 months, giving it a market capitalisation of some $178 billion. Rival PDD, which briefly overtook Alibaba in terms of market value last December, is not far behind with $160 billion.

Ma, China’s best-known tech entrepreneur, publicly criticised Chinese regulators in a speech in October 2020, derailing a massive listing by fintech company Ant Group, which he also founded.

That was followed by regulatory crackdowns on the Chinese tech sector, including a fine of $2.8 billion for Alibaba, with Ma largely withdrawing from public life.

Ma spends much of his time abroad, especially in Japan where he is a visiting professor at Tokyo College, a research institute run by the University of Tokyo.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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