Thank you very much, director sir, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Before my speech, I would like to show you a video which happened in Hangzhou about our Hangzhou SME summit, can I?
After 3 days, you know, in house meeting Internal and fly all the way here, and I did not feel quite well today. But when I see the entrepreneurs, when I came to the SMEs, I always feel excited. Because when I join the SME Conference, I see, from the eyes, the dreams, the passion, the hope. When I join the Fortune 500 Conference, among the CEOs, I see the numbers, I see the revenues, I see the KPIs, I see the bloody competition. But among the SMEs, you see "I have a dream, I want to do something." And that happens all the time and that makes me excited all the time.
And today I think last year every people say:"Woo, the economic is in trouble, and we are all dead, what we are going to do?" Today everybody seems to be happy, say the economy come back .Is it really that the economy comes back? I don't think so .The money is going to big companies, the money goes to infrastructure; the money goes back to the stock market. It seems nobody learns from that. How can the economy come back if the SMEs do not come back? How can the economic come back if the dreams are not back, the hopes not come back?
I saw one thing that, few days, you know, 2 days ago I had a dinner with my Singapore friends and they said: “Singapore government is encouraging to have more babies, Because, you know , people are aging and not enough kids.” I think SMEs, we, every economy, every nation, needs instant package to have more small medium size companies, to have more hopes, because every big company comes from the small business. If without hope, without this kind of instants to have more babies, we are going to die.
Why I always feel excited? I have 8 babies. In the far past 15 years, I built up 8 companies, seven of them, very healthy; one of them, I sold it. And I keep the babies, when I look at my babies--Alibaba , Taobao, Alipay and you know ,the company we just have AliCloud, we just have a new baby 2 month ago . I always feel excited because you see the hope, you know this baby is going to change me, this baby is going to change the world can change the customers. And that’s the thing I always feel excited. If you want to be happy, have more babies. If you are the government, want your economy to be good, have more SMES. These are the dreams, these are the hope, these are the future. So this is all we want to say, but enough, we’ve been crying, say: “please give us support.” But all the SMES ask yourself one question. We are not crying babies. We believe we are tomorrow’s Google, we believe we are tomorrow’s eBay, YouTube; we believe we are tomorrow’s UPS. If we believe we are, we can be; if you don’t believe, you never be.
We heard a lot of government say:” (we give you) let me know what we can do. let me know what we can help SMES.” we heard a lot of banks say:” well, we’ve been, you know, give loans to a lot of SMES.”I heard some bank said, well, one of the bank president said: “we gave like, you know, 200 millions US$ to the SMES.”I ask:” what’s the size the loan you give?”20 millions dollars. How can you say the 20 millions? As the research I got, from Alibaba Group (Alibaba statistic), 87% of the SMES, what they need, the fund is below 60 thousand US$. But they gave the loan 20 millions to some big companies, they are not SMES, they are not the hopes.
But, I think all the SMES say (that) nobody can help you. My 8 companies, I always say, nobody help us, only we can help ourselves. Don’t rely on the government, don’t rely on the bank, forget about that. Rely on your friends, rely on relatives, rely on your small dreams and always keep that thing in head. Because I’ve been trying very hard to get loans from banks, always trouble. Within the past the years, I even did not borrow one cent from banks, my kids grew up, I don’t know why.
And the banks always say because we don’t have enough information from the SMEs. Tell me, any fortune 500, any big bank, CEOs or presidents go to the SMEs summit? No! They go to the CEOs summit. How could you get information if you do not go there to listen to them, talk to them, share experiences with them? To see what they need is only 50 thousand US$, instead of 20 million dollars. How can you get enough information? So, I think, well, we discussed yesterday say, banks are banks. They always have to control the risk. Right! So government banks, let’s think about something new. New financial structure that can really help those millions of hopeful small companies that need only 50 thousand US $. What is the right structure, what is the right organization to support them? That’s the thing we should think about.
So the other thing I want to share with you here is always I believe that small is beautiful. And this financial crisis, it gave a lot of disaster; it’s a disaster to big companies. This world, in 21th century, I think in last century, it’s bigger is better. You have big (you know) factory, big amount, everything is big is good. This century, in the 21st century, I always believe small is beautiful. Because it’s not how fast your machine is. It’s not how many equipment you have, it is how quickly you can change yourself to meet the market.
Because the information time, Internet and technology make a difference. So the world IT last century is designed for the manufacturers. This century IT is designed for making a help to the consumers. So I think this is a disaster for the big company, century disasters for big companies. But it is a great opportunity for small businesses. For this financial crisis, we see a lot of big companies, we would never thought they would die, AIG, to me it’s like the empire, how could this happen. Right all the G, the big car company which we respect, we always want to be there. But today, they all died.
And let’s look at all the SMES, we still feel painful, but we are happy in our heart because we are still surviving. And we heard so many stories about big companies giving trouble. And I see the society; the government pays too much attention to these big trouble makers. They are the trouble makers and we gave them enough support, let them die; It’s the time for them to die because they make troubles. Every big company, they have different disaster, different problems, but all the SMES, have the same problems. They need understanding and support.
This world is not fair, I know, so that’s why I want to encourage everyone all the SMES here, I’m the SME, I have 8 kids, I am still SME, I still believe I’m small. Because when I am small, I know l can be big and I hate to be big, unfortunately. When I was a small company, only have 20 people, I felt so excited. Well, I can call every employee’s names and I know every time, everything I want to change, I can change within half a minute. Now, oh, terrible. When I was 20 years old, my friends said:” you company is not big enough. If you are big, you are like a big boss. You are easy, right, you can control your time.” No, my time is not controlled by myself; my time is controlled by all the meetings, sectary, KPI, shareholders, all the things. It’s much tougher than when you are small. So I always believe the first day love is every beautiful. Believe the first day love, when you are small, at least you can have time to go out go to cinema with your wife and kids and enjoy wonderful view. But when you are big, you always go to the board meetings.
And also I want to say that, I give you some, today I come here, people say Jack, you do not prepare, why don’t you have PPT.I never prepare PPT, you know, I’m not good at technology. I was trained to be a high school teacher and the only thing I can know about computer, funny thing, I’m running one of the biggest e-commerce companies in China, maybe in the world, but I know nothing about computer, the only thing I can know about computer is to send and receive email and browse. That’s it. Because I always think technology is for the people, people are not working for the technology. But today I come here, as an entrepreneur. I am prepared every day. I’m not prepared for the PPT, because every time when I use the PPT, something wrong, I cannot use it.
So I come here to tell my old experiences, I want to share with you as 8 kids’ father what I did when I have trouble. When I have trouble, I always remind me 3 things: focus on your customer, serve your employees, and learn from your competitors. These are the key issues that I learned.
Focus on your customer, everybody toady talking about shareholder NO.1, I hate that. I think it’s always customer NO.1. It’s the customer give you the money. It’s the customer give you the innovations. It’s the customer that makes you happy. Year 1999 and year 20xx, when Internet bubble burst, we cannot get any money, we did not have revenue, we have nothing, but everyday what encouraged me go on was letters of thanks and emails from my customers, said Jack, Alibaba, keep on. Because you helped us, someday we will help you. That’s the dream I had.
So today, we believe shareholder NO.1 .you only think about making numbers. You only think about revenues, you only think about how can make you stock market go up. And I let you know, no shareholders can be trusted. I tell you the truth. Well, our share stock price, 2 years ago, we listed, 13.50 Hong Kong dollars. Before that list, a lot of shareholders came to say Jack: “we are long-term shareholders, please give us more shares, we will keep it.” When the financial crisis time came, the day when IPO, 13.50 Hong Kong dollars, we went up 40 dollars without doing anything good in 24 hours. And then financial crisis came, 40 dollars to 3 dollars without doing anything bad, they all gone. Most the shareholders, they are share traders. How can you trust on them? So rely on your customers because the customers stay with you, customer grow up with you, customer give you the money, give you the hope, give you the support. So focus on customer.
And secondly, rely and serve your employees, it’s you employee, your team that make the difference. It’s the employees that make all the dreams realize. If we say we have so many problems in our big companies have a problem in getting the innovation, how to make thing happen, well, because they do not listen to the employees, they focus too much on the shareholders. And the shareholders, they give you this idea, that idea, when you really do their idea, they are gone. They change all the time, but the employees stay with you.
I remember the tough days, was so difficult year 20xx and 20xx. There was only one group of people that stay with me, that’s my colleagues. And people say Jack:” you don’t have to pay me for 2 years, I will stay with the company because you respect us, because the customers love us. “I tell you one funny thing, the only way you believe your employees are talents, they are talented people. If you don’t believe them, they will never be. My mistake I made when I was, in the year 20xx, we raised 500 thousand US$ and that 5 million dollars. When we have money, we started to make mistakes. I tried to hair as many talents as possible. Those talents are MBAs; those talents are vice presidents of multinational companies, because I believe if you have MBA, you must be good, right. But when I hired these guys, oh, my god, it’s terrible. These guys came to tell you strategy. I only had 5 million dollars, I remember one of the vice president marketing said: “Jack this is the budget for next year marketing.” I said: “what that, 12 million dollars is. I only have 5 million.” He said:” I never done any plan below 10 million.” When something wrong, is always your fault, because you never know. So try to find the right people, not the best people or your employees. So if you try to hire great people in your own company which your company is not good enough at that time, just like put a Boone 747’s engine into a poor tractor, when that goes, your tractor never fly, into pieces. So my suggestion is that look at your employees, develop them, only when they are developed, your company will be developed.
The day when we IPO, we created more than a thousand millionaires at least in the company. All the guys in the sitting room, we had a chat. Said:” ask me. Now tell me one thing, why you are so successful. Why we are so successful when we are 20s, become millionaires. What happened, are we very hard working people. I think there are much more hard working people outside. Do you think we are smart enough? Oh At least, I’m not smart, I took 3 years 3 times to go to the university. I failed all the times. I don’t think I’m smart, I don’t think you are smart. “
And that time in the year 20xx, it’s so difficult for Alibaba to hire people. If they are not very that much disabled, we hired them, if they can walk, we hired them. Because nobody believed the Internet, nobody believed e-commerce would work in China, nobody believed that. You know, Internet can happen. But these guys, because they have no jobs, so let’s come here. They joined the company. Those MBAs, Those people with great backgrounds, a lot of hunting company, they moved out, they started their own business, now, today they all failed. Those guys, nobody hunting them, those guys, never thought of having the dream to build their own company and stayed with the company. After 5 years, we all succeed. Why? We keep our dreams, we believed it, no matter how big your dream is, make small tiny steps .I had and grow with them, grow up with the company.
So, my mistake in year 20xx I told my 18 founders, I said: “you guys can only be team manager, all the VPs I will hire from outside.” Now 10 years have passed, all the wonderful people I hired from outside, 100% gone. And those which I think, how could you be successful. These guys all become VPs and directors. They are all powerful. Because they believe they can. So I want to tell everybody here, we all small but care your employees. These are the people, they have the families, they have dreams, they come here not only for the job, they come here with the dream to get shared with you.
And the third thing is learn from your competitors. Don’t hate the competitors. Big companies hate competitors, I love my competitors. Without competitors, we will never grow up that much fast. Year 20xx, when we started Taobao, it’s a C2C option model. EBay, my competitor, at that time is with 80 billion dollars market capital. We, small tiny, but we started compete. It’s a lot of fun to compete with big guys. , you know if I started have a box with Taisen, I’m horned, you know. If you have a chance to compete with somebody, it is a great competitor, you learned. We learned from our competitors, we respect them. Everything they move, you grow. And the other thing I want to share with you is that competitors are the best laboratory for you. Because competitors studied you. Any innovative idea they come, you learn that. Don’t copy them, learn from them. So I love my competitors, every time when I look at them with admire.
But in China, people say, Jack, you are so crazy. Because 4 years ago, I said, when I look though the microscope, I never see my competitors. People say, “How could you be that Kuang wang.”And I said: “I’m looking for examples, models, why should I look for competitors. Competitors are everywhere.” And when you compete, having you found the most interesting part of the business is competition. To make your competitors angry, to make your competitors jumping around, that’s the skill you should have. Not make yourself jumping around and angry, right? Business is such a great fun. When you compete, when I compete, if I got angry, if I jumping around, I know something wrong. Because this is a wrong strategy to compete. When you compete, not the purpose to make your competitors unhappy. If they are unhappy, if they jumping around, if they try to use money to care of things, you start to win. Because they start to lose money. When competitors start to use money to compete, they start to lose. Business is about wisdom, business is about hope, business is about courage.
So these are old excuse, and nobody comfort us I learned to use my right hand to comfort my left hand when I’m in trouble. You always tell yourself, OK, I’m still surviving, I’m still growing, and everything is good. At least I’m still surviving. Right so when you are big, you start to worry about losing something. When you are small, you start to grow. So I always believe small keeps the hope. So these are the thing I want to share with you and the last most important thing I want to say is never ever give up your dreams. I almost ,I think, you cannot eat food for 7 days that you will die, five to seven days; if you do not drink for 3 days, you will die; if you do not breath for 3 minutes, you die; but if you lose hope and dream for 1 minute, you die.
So I want to tell you that I had problems in the past 10 years. These days when I walk in China, when I look at the airport, a lot of books about me, about the Alibaba, I feel very nervous. Because these are not the books interviewed me, these are the books all right, we are not that good, we are not that bad. But today, something, you know, successful, they started to write good things about it. We made so many mistakes. The only book that I dream to write about is Alibaba’s 1001 mistakes. Every mistake I think you count it, I made it. And I know you will make it, too. Because when I was doing business, everybody said:” Woo, this is a mistake. This guy is going to make it, that guy is going to make it. I’m never going to make it.” I tell you, you will never make it. And you will make it again, again, and again. When you are making it again and again, don’t lose confidence. Make it again, you will win. That’s all we did. I mean, nobody is perfect, right?
So I almost lose my confidence in the year 20xx. I had a big trouble with my team in the USA. I learned from a great consult guy to join the company, Jack:”Alibaba is doing international trade, international trade needs English. Which country has the best English you believe?” I think, USA, Right.” Now, internet needs great technology, which country has the best technology? ”We said, hen USA. Where? The Silicon Valley. So we moved our Alibaba.com to the Silicon Valley. And when I arrived at Silicon Valley, we suddenly realized something wrong. We hired people from Miami, from New York, from all over the world. They all came to the Silicon Valley. After 3 months, the problem was that nobody in the Silicon Valley knew the trade. So what’s the point having good technology and English. We are not English site. All the small medium size companies, I across aboard, they know what exactly what you are talking about no matter how terrible your English is. Right? So I stopped the mistake and I told the people, say: “sorry, it’s a mistake. Let’s move back.” So after 2 months, we moved back to China again.
The funny thing is that everybody was happy at that time because Internet is boosting. They got a lot of compensation shares, they got a lot of cash pay and finding another job is easy. And nobody wants to the shares. We give them one cent per share, no, no, no, we want cash. Now you know, they don’t believe your dreams. If they believe the dreams, give them the shares one cent. If they don’t believe, I want the cash, let them go. And I was so disappointed, a lot of people we hired, they do not want. They want cash. No matter how wonderful, at that time, it is easy to raise money, people still want cash. So I say, OK, let forget it. And I walked for half an hour on Beijing Street, my colleague was with me, and then I told myself, go to bed, sleep, tomorrow, again. Though ,We started. Today, things changed. So I want to tell you never ever give up your dreams.
And today I encourage myself and our team that reminds us one thing always I want to share with you to finish my speech that--today is very difficult, tomorrow is much more difficult, but the day after tomorrow is very beautiful. Most people die tomorrow evening. You will never be able to see the day after tomorrow’s sunshine if you give up the hope, you will not see it. If you give up your employees, you will never see it, if you give up your customers, you will be dead. But if you give up shareholders, you will get a better one.