Last week (November 16), there were media reports on Jack Ma selling 10 million Alibaba shares for $870.7 million

This news coincided with Alibaba’s September Quarter 2023 Results, leading to speculations about Jack Ma’s confidence in the company’s prospects. 

Today (November 22), Alibaba co-founder and Chief People Officer Jane Jiang sent an internal memo to clarify what exactly happened and reiterated Jack Ma’s confidence in the group. 

We thought this memo carried interesting insights and we have translated the memo into English below: 

From Jane Jiang’s internal memo: 

Dear colleagues,

There have been two major misconceptions circulating about Alibaba in the past few days, which I want to clarify with the real information I know, and I encourage you to share this with colleagues and friends who care about Alibaba’s development:

  1. Since last Thursday’s earnings release, there have been media reports on Mr Ma’s plan to reduce his Alibaba shareholding, leading to the belief that Mr Ma is not optimistic about the company.

Let me clarify the facts here: Mr Ma’s office signed a contract for the sale of shares earlier this year under the SEC 10b5-1 rule in the United States, to fund investments in agricultural technology and public welfare projects at home and abroad. The disclosure of this conditional future divestment plan was scheduled for mid-November.

November 16 just happened to be the set disclosure date, but the broker was unaware that this day coincided with the company’s financial report release. This coincidence led to the first misunderstanding.

“The selling price set in August was much higher than the current stock price, so Mr Ma hasn’t sold a single share!” This is the second misunderstanding.

Mr Ma’s office has issued a statement saying he will firmly hold onto Alibaba shares. This is not empty talk but a fact. Alibaba’s stock is currently much lower than its actual value, and he won’t sell.

The external hype that he is selling shares shows a lack of confidence in Alibaba’s business, completely disregarding the fact that this is a long-term plan and his belief in further appreciation of Alibaba’s business.

2. About the rumor that Alibaba will lay off 25,000 people: This rumor has been spreading over the past two days. There are even fabricated stories about how we applied for approval from the human resources departments at various levels. The Group has reported this to the police to hold the rumor-mongers accountable. I hope to see them take responsibility soon.

This isn’t my first time debunking rumors through an internal memo, and likely won’t be the last. 

Since the company’s founding, we’ve always faced rumors. What’s important is that every time we’ve defeated rumors with belief.

We’ve come this far amidst negations, doubts, and even rumors. Belief in the future and in ourselves is our strength in facing all challenges. Looking ahead, facing the waves of technology and endless innovation, we have many important tasks to accomplish. Let’s work together!

Group Chairman Joe Tsai posted the following comment to Jiang’s memo:

I’ve been with the company for nearly 25 years. From the beginning until now, Alibaba has always faced various doubts and challenges. But we’ve always persevered, overcoming one difficulty after another amidst skepticism and challenges, because Alibaba’s DNA is to believe that the future will be better.

Today, with the rapid iteration of global technology and business models, it’s a challenge for everyone, but also an excellent opportunity. As long as we maintain an open mindset and innovative thinking, we have the chance to create a unique Alibaba again.

At this moment, it’s up to us. I have full confidence in Alibaba. Young Alibaba colleagues, the future belongs to you! Because of trust, it’s simple; because of belief, we see!

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].