In a piece of shocking news, Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba, announced on his 54th birthdays that he will step down as the company’s executive chairman.
“No company can rely solely on its founders,” Ma wrote in a Monday letter to shareholders, employees and customers. “Because of physical limits on one’s ability and energy, no one can shoulder the responsibilities of chairman and CEO forever.”
After building a $420B juggernaut and setting the record for biggest IPO ever, Ma says he has done what he wants at Alibaba and instead has other goals.
Ma wants to teach and do kung fu with Jet Li
“I also want to return to education,” Ma said in the letter, “which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things – because what if new dreams can be realized?!”
Current CEO Daniel Zhang will take full reigns in 12 months, the company said. Ma says he plans on staying on the board of directors till 2020, but says he has spent the past 10 years planning for his exit.
“Teachers always want their students to exceed them, so the responsible thing … for me and the company to do is to let younger, more talented people take over in leadership roles,” he said.
According to reports, Ma also plans on starring in a kung fu movie with Jet Li.
Alibaba’s crazy rise
Ma’s story is one of the greatest success stories of all time. Ma, a former English teacher, started Alibaba nearly two decades ago in his apartment. (Hashtag WealthHACKING!)
With a net worth of around $40B, Ma is one of the richest people in China—and in the world, period.
Before hitting that mark, Ma struggled to find jobs and was rejected from KFC before finding work as an English teacher for $12 a month from a local university.
“I failed so many times,” Ma said at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January. “Twenty-four of us interviewed for a KFC job, 23 got accepted, I was the only guy rejected.”
He later set up shop with 17 of his friends, which led to first the biggest IPO in the US, but later the biggest in the world.
What’s next for Alibaba?
The announcement could come at a troubling time for the e-commerce giant.
Chinese tech stocks are getting hammered at the moment, with three stocks alone (including Alibaba) losing hundreds of billions in market value in the past few months alone.
Leading Chinese tech companies are down about 12% overall. Despite the slump, Alibaba’s still trading at $156.36, close to double its $68/share IPO price.
In other words, it’s still worth $405.31B.
Here’s Jack Ma’s full letter below:
Dear Alibaba customers, Aliren, and shareholders,
Today, as we mark the 19th anniversary of Alibaba, I am excited to share some news with you: with the approval of our board of directors, one year from today on September 10, 2019 which also falls on Alibaba’s 20th anniversary, Group CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed me as chairman of the board of Alibaba Group. While remaining as executive chairman in the next 12 months, I will work closely with Daniel to ensure a smooth and successful transition. Thereafter, I will stay on the Alibaba board of directors until our annual shareholders meeting in 2020.
I have put a lot of thought and preparation into this succession plan for ten years. I am delighted to announce the plan today thanks to the support of the Alibaba Partnership and our board of directors. I also want to offer special thanks to all Alibaba colleagues and your families, because your trust, support and our joint enterprise over the past 19 years have prepared us for this day with confidence and strength.
This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organizational excellence and a culture of talent development.
When Alibaba was founded in 1999, our goal was to build a company that could make China and the world proud and one that could cross three centuries to last 102 years. However, we all knew that no one could stay with the company for 102 years. 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.
We asked ourselves this question 10 years ago – how could Alibaba achieve sustainable growth after Jack Ma leaves the company? We believed the only way to solve the problem of corporate leadership succession was to develop a system of governance based on a unique culture and mechanisms for developing consistent talent and successors. For the last 10 years, we kept working on these ingredients.
Having been trained as a teacher, I feel extremely proud of what I have achieved. Teachers always want their students to exceed them, so the responsible thing to do for me and the company to do is to let younger, more talented people take over in leadership roles so that they inherit our mission “to make it easy to do business anywhere.” Carrying out this mission in order to help small businesses, young people and women around the world is my passion. This is not only our intent from day one but I feel blessed to have this opportunity. To realize the dream behind this mission requires participation by a lot more people than just Jack Ma and persistent effort by generations of Aliren.
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. In fact, since I handed over the CEO’s responsibilities in 2013, the company has run smoothly for five years on the back of these institutional ingredients.
The partnership system we developed is a creative solution to good governance and sustainability, as it overcomes several challenges faced by companies of scale: continuous innovation, leadership succession, accountability and cultural continuity.Over the years, in iterating our management model, we have experimented with and improved on the right balance between systems and individuals. Simply relying on individuals or blindly following a system will not solve our problems. To achieve long-term sustainable growth, you need the right balance among system, people and culture. I have full confidence that our partnership system and efforts to safeguard our culture will in time win over the love and support from customers, employees and shareholders.
Since the founding of the company in 1999, we have been of the view that Alibaba’s future will need to depend on “droves of talent” to enable us to iterate on our management succession plans. After years of hard work, today’s Alibaba has a world-class talent pool in quality and quantity. The teacher in me feels extremely proud of our team, our leadership and our unique mission-driven culture, as well as the fact that we continue to develop exceptional business leaders and professional talent like Daniel Zhang.
Daniel has been with Alibaba Group for 11 years. Since he took over as CEO, he has demonstrated his superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership. Under his stewardship, Alibaba has seen consistent and sustainable growth for 13 consecutive quarters. His analytical mind is unparalleled, he holds dear our mission and vision, he embraces responsibility with passion, and he has the guts to innovate and test creative business models. Deservedly, China’s business news media has named him the No. 1 CEO in 2018. For these reasons, he and his team have won the trust and support of customers, employees and shareholders. Starting the process of passing the Alibaba torch to Daniel and his team is the right decision at the right time, because I know from working with them that they are ready, and I have complete confidence in our next generation of leaders.
As for myself, I still have lots of dreams to pursue. Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle. I plan on continuing my role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership and contribute to the work of the partnership. I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things – because what if new dreams can be realized?!
The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.
September 10, 2018
This Ex-NBA All Star May Just Have The No.1 Wine In The World
Former NBA All Star Yao Ming had his career cut short by injuries. But he’s rebounded, big time, with big scores off the court.
(LOL at these sports cliches…)
Ming founded Yao Family Wines in California’s Napa Valley in 2011. Which is not a major deal; lots of celebrities make mediocre wines that eventually drop off.
Anyway, back in 2015, Ming raised $2M on crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder to scale his own wine. Here’s how it looked back then, according to the Wall Street Journal:
With Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign sapping demand for expensive wines, Yao Family Wines, the biggest seller of high-end Californian wine in China by value, is shifting its focus from Chinese banquet tables to U.S. steak houses. Now 15% of the winery’s revenues come from the US, compared to almost zero at the beginning in late 2011. The company said it has managed to grow its sales in a tough environment, without giving more details.
And now, Ming’s wine—legitimately—is now one of the best in the world, with an approval rating of 95+ from the world’s single most influential wine critic, Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate.
Here’s what he wrote:
“I am aware of all the arguments that major celebrities lending their names to wines is generally a formula for mediocrity, but that is not the case with Yao Ming. These are high-class wines. The two Cabernets are actually brilliant, and the Reserve bottling ranks alongside just about anything made in Napa.”
Yao Ming making legitimate bid to become best athlete winemaker. This wine, which came out last month, got a 95+ from famed wine critic Robert Parker. Bottle costs $250. Sold in US & China. pic.twitter.com/yqDQSO9bxz
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 5, 2018
Another influential voice of wine the Wine Enthusiast went even further, awarding his wines 97 and 95 points respectively.
Check out his winery here.
Uber Goes Public And Immediately Loses Over $6B In Value
UBER just went public in the most anticipated IPO since Facebook went to Wall Street.
The ride-sharing company officially hit the New York Stock Exchange Friday, pricing its IPO at $45 a share, which put the ride-hailing company at $81B at 180M shares available—far below their initial $120B projection in their filings.
Uber ended the day at $41.60—down nearly 8% from its listing price, leading to a $6B+ valuation loss.
For perspective: Uber’s last private valuation was about $76B. It’s now worth $75.5B.
Uber’s not the only one crashing out the gate. Even though Lyft beat Uber to the IPO punch, since going public in March, Lyft has lost 29% of its value.
Uber’s been plagued by a number of issues, compounded by the fact that none of the tech unicorns are profitable yet. Uber, for instance, burned through $1B in Q1 alone.
“They waited too long to go public,” Former NYSE President Tom Farley said. “Some of the issues they had — I’ll call it culture — some of the issues they had with their culture would’ve been solved in a public market. You wouldn’t show up on a quarterly conference call every quarter and have three or four new stories like they were having for 18 straight months.”
Did Uber IPO too late?
Although early investors made out like straight BANDITS—just look at Lance Armstrong—investors in the later stage haven’t been as lucky.
“I mean, you look at all the money invested in Uber — 25 billion bucks,” Farley said. “Their pre-money valuation last night was [$]73 [billion]. This is a 2.8x investment.
“That’s great and all, but the initial investors got 10,000 times their money. So the recent people, they haven’t been making money. This is a company that has needed public discipline, this is a company that has needed a public currency, and it’s a company that should have gone public three or four years ago.”
Morgan Stanley Just Released Its List Of Top 10 Companies They’re Investing In
Morgan Stanley just announced the second cohort of its Multicultural Innovation Lab, an accelerator program for technology and technology-enabled start-ups in the post-seed to Series B funding rounds.
The program—now in its second year—targets companies with a multicultural or woman founder, co-founder, or any Chief (insert) Officer in charge of what it calls “innovative solutions across sectors.”
According to various studies, female founders, founders of color—and both—receive as little or less than 1% of venture capital funding—a gap Morgan Stanley says it wants to bridge.
“There is a compelling business case for investing in startups led by women and multicultural founders, yet, as found in our recent report, there is a large market inefficiency to accelerate businesses led by these founders,” Managing Director Alice Vilma says. “We are working to directly address this funding gap, one cohort at a time.”
With less than 3% admitted into the program, each startup will take a seat on its on floor inside Morgan Stanley’s global headquarters in Times Square, New York.
In addition, the companies funded receive pretty precious billboard space all over Times Square. It’s real fancy.
Here are the 10 companies that were selected: