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On April 10, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma published an internal letter to employees, which is titled To Reform and Innovation.

It is written on the first anniversary of Alibaba’s restructuring, which highly praises the reform courage of the new management team led by Joseph Tsai and Eddie Wu. Ma said that Alibaba has returned to a trajectory of healthy growth and expressed his support for continued reforms.

This is also the first time in five years since his retirement that Ma has shared his thoughts on the company's reform, innovation, and future prospects in a long-form letter.

Below is the full letter:

Many people have sent me videos of Joe’s interview in the past few days. Some have said to me that the video’s admission of our past mistakes is quite candid. Yes, it is. I appreciate Joe’s courage and responsibility. It’s not terrible to make mistakes, as no one is infallible. What’s truly terrifying is not knowing, not admitting, and not correcting mistakes.

In the past 25 years, Alibaba has achieved many successes and led numerous innovations. But during these 25 years, we have also made countless mistakes, and we will continue to make mistakes on our journey over the next 77 years. Facing problems squarely is not to deny the past, but to responsibly seek the path to the future. We must not blame the past or others. As the times change, we must keep up with the times. Not only must we bravely admit and promptly correct yesterday’s problems, but we must also reform towards the future. This is precisely why we keep moving forward.

Last year, I wrote on the internal website: Alibaba will change, Alibaba will transform. Over the past year, Joseph Tsai and Eddie Wu have led Alibaba through a series of future-oriented reforms with admirable courage and wisdom.

The most crucial change this year is not chasing KPIs, but understanding ourselves and returning to the track of customer value. We have cracked down on the big company disease, returning from a slow decision-making organization to one that prioritizes efficiency and market. The new management team faces problems and the future directly, trusts young people, fully empowers young teams, and makes decisive and clear choices about what we want and what we don’t want. Our idealistic sentiments and the mission of “making it easy to do business anywhere” will never change. But in the past year, the new management team has made various changes, not only breaking through yesterday’s rigid strategies but also building the future Alibaba.

From B2B to Taobao, to Alipay, and then to Alibaba Cloud, our innovation has never been for the pursuit of higher profits, but to strive to survive in a rapidly changing era. Our innovation is not to change others, but to change ourselves. Our innovation has never been to surpass competitors, but to catch up with the future. Innovation is not to be fashionable; it is a test of your real survival ability. It requires you to subvert cognition from your heart, always challenge yourself, and constantly do things that others dare not do, do not want to do, and have not done…

Facing this era of tremendous technological change, a span of three to five years is like a century for the Internet field, enough to bring about earth-shaking changes. I believe that the e-commerce of three years later will definitely not be today’s hottest e-commerce… The important thing is not to catch up with who today, but to think about how tomorrow’s e-commerce should improve the consumer experience… The AI era has just arrived, everything is just beginning, and we are just in time!

This year, amidst many doubts and pressures, I saw a strong and brave Alibaba team being born. When talking about reform and innovation, the most feared thing is to turn reform and innovation into slogans. Reform and innovation are painful because reform requires a price to be paid, and innovation needs to be ground out step by step with oneself. Organizational changes and restructuring involve every employee. Thank you to all Alibaba people for your dedication and responsibility this year, and thank you and your families for still choosing to believe and persist in the face of constant changes and even decisions about whether or not to IPO. I salute you. It is your persistence that has brought Alibaba back to the track of healthy growth.

The road to reform and innovation is never accompanied by applause, because what is changed is our favorite bad habits, and what is revolutionized is vested interests… The road is long, but it is not lonely to walk together. In the future, we need to be more proactive, more actively and quickly change ourselves, and need more vigorous reform, in order to build a vibrant future Alibaba.

Keep going, Alibaba!

Editor: Alexander