Caixin
Jun 14, 2011 08:44 PM

Jack Ma on the State of Alibaba and Alipay

The silence surrounding the intrigue and tumult over the recent Alibaba dispute was finally broken after this week's Caixin editorial "Why Jack Ma is Wrong," prompted Jack Ma to personally contact Caixin's chief editor Hu Shuli at 1 am Beijing time on June 12.

It marked the first time that Ma spoke to the media since the beginning of the controversy. The candid, off-the-cuff discussions between Ma and Hu covered the topics of protectionism in the U.S. and changes to the managerial structure of Alibaba.

Below are the text messages and transcripts of their communication on June 12 to 13, compiled by Caixin and released with the permission of Mr. Ma.

Ma: It's regrettable that you commented on the matter without knowing the basic facts. How is it possible that we could have come this far without honoring the spirit of the contract? It's a shame that people don't believe Chinese entrepreneurs can honor the spirit of contracts, even now, with a better understanding of the law than foreigners.

Hu: We are deeply concerned for you and this is why the situation is regrettable. We're trying to learn the basic facts.

Ma: It's far from over. The negotiations are still underway. I'm against nationalism, and even more against violating the spirit of contracts. It is much more important to maintain the integrity of the company than to make money, especially because the many people working at the company, where the average age is just 26, still have a long future ahead. I strongly opposed the row started by Wahaha. This is why I would like to wait until the truth is disclosed to talk about the matter this time.

The media can concentrate on criticism alone, but people involved in the matter must first attend to relevant issues and then consider joining the debate. It is part of our obligation to have our behavior analyzed and judged by critics. But it would be neither objective nor scientific to reach conclusions before the dust settles down.

You really believe I'd be so stupid as to sell Alipay to myself at such a low price? Or that I would keep it to myself, while so many others are working for it? Don't you think that I would know better than to do something that is so naive and worthy of public ridicule?

Hu: Well, I'm glad to see you have been so far-sighted about this. There is still a long way ahead. We will make corrections if we got it wrong. But it would be still necessary to criticize the central bank's policy.

Ma: I agree with you. I have tried my best when it comes to the central bank. It's the responsibility of entrepreneurs to fight for what they want before the regulation is published and observe it after it is implemented. And it is your job to be critical of both sides of the issue. People involved in the matter don't have much of a say on that.

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