Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group has been doing the rounds and I see a lot of quotes from him in my twitter feed about how Alibaba made more money in the last 20 days than Amazon did in the last 20 years. I think he is fascinating and Alibaba Group is a fascinating conglomerate. I read and listened to the pitch that was made before their IPO, the link is no longer available. I saw the following video which is in Chinese, so I read and transcribed the entire talk in this document. Yes, you are welcome. It took me more than 3 hours.
Here are some excerpts from the talk:
There were 3 reasons behind our success, they were very valid points:
First, we had no money
Second, we didn’t understand technology
Third, we never planned
I believe that money could not solve all the problems. Money is just an important tactic in problem solving. So, when people say, “I have money, so I can do this” That is the start of their failure.
I don’t understand technology, I really don’t. Even today, I still don’t understand what coding is all about. Even today, I still don’t understand the technology behind the Internet. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t respect technology.
My experience with technology is similar to 80% of our users. We respect technology, but we are afraid of it. We just need it to be useful. If you can’t use the technology — regardless of how good it is — it is useless.
For those who don’t get technology
If you don’t understand technology then respect it, appreciate it, and revere it. Technology is important, the people behind the technology are even more important. Without believe, technology is just a tool, if people believe in the technology, the technology becomes productive, innovative, and can impact society. So we don’t understand technology, I feel proud, because I have a different mentality. I don’t think China or the world lacks technology. It lacks appreciation and reverence for it.
About Business Plans
If you wrote a business plan in 1996, you were either lying to others or to yourself. You have no idea what will happen. How can you write such a detailed plan for investors? I don’t even know what will happen. I could ask a Stanford MBA graduate to write a very nice looking plan for me. Is it useful? No! It is only useful if you executed your plan. Right? So I later decided not to write a plan. Our life is a plan that is slowly unfolding. Embrace change, Change is the best plan. But you don’t want to lose your own sense of direction.
I can see how his charisma, hard work, drive on a purpose bigger than himself, ambition and humility inspired the entire team in Alibaba to do what they do and to succeed. I believe these are the winning qualities of a charismatic leader. I would highly encourage all startup founders to start cultivating these qualities.