Jack Ma talks about why Alibaba will last for 102 years

A recent speech of Jack Ma has everyone talking in China. The last time Ma spoke in public, he pledged to create 1 million jobs in US when he met the US President at Trump Tower in New York in January.

This time, however, he shared his insights on core values of a CEO with budding entrepreneurs at Hupan College in China’s Hangzhou, a private school he co-founded with seven entrepreneurs.

Set up in 2015, the institute is Ma’s attempt at grooming the next generation of entrepreneurs, offering training programs to “discover and develop entrepreneurs who maintain the bottom line and work for a better society,” according to its website.

Listening to Ma is the incoming batch of 44 students that the college recruited for their third batch. All the students have at least three years of experience in their own businesses.

Hupan College's third batch of students. (Photo from Hupan College's Weibo)
Hupan College’s third batch of students. (Photo from Hupan College’s Weibo)

While for many CEOs, making money is their business philosophy, it’s something Ma has achieved and surpassed as the executive chairman of Alibaba Group. His goal is to run a corporate that can last for decades, and for Alibaba, he’s aiming at a number that’s a little bit more than a century.

“Alibaba’s vision is to last for 102 years,” said Ma. This is how he did the math. The company was founded in 1999. Ma wants the company to reign for the entire 21st century and still be surviving in the year 2101. He stressed that he’s building a business to last, not just to sell, and so that Alibaba can stretch over three centuries.

It didn’t come as a surprise when Ma mentioned that he doesn’t like “the mode of Silicon Valley”. Instead, he said he favors those companies whose roots are from Seattle. He believes that while the former are built to sell, the latter are built to last. “Just look at Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon and Starbucks. They are all from Seattle,” said Ma.

In the speech, Ma also shared a slew of tips and values he believes a CEO should bear in mind. Here are some highlights.

Don’t hire the best candidate.
Hire a suitable one. The best employees are those you can train.

Have regular job rotation.
“People often say that West Point trains more CEOs than business schools,” said Ma. West Point, also known as United States Military Academy, is an American military training school located in Orange County, New York.

Missions (of a company) do matter.
Alibaba’s mission is to make running a business easier. Repeat your mission to the staff, and ultimately when the team is to make any decision, they will naturally put the company’s mission into consideration. That’s where the bonding of the team comes.

(Top photo from Hupan College’s Weibo)

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