From Waiter to Leader: Jonathan Lu’s First Speech as Alibaba CEO

  1 Comment

Alibaba CEO, Jonanthan Lu and his management team

Now that we’ve heard Jack Ma’s final speech as Alibaba’s CEO, we can focus on his successor, Jonathan Lu. Compared to Ma, fewer people will have heard of Lu. But Ma’s last big decision at Alibaba as CEO was perhaps to appoint Lu as CEO.

In his first speech as Alibaba CEO last Friday, Jonathan Lu thanked Ma for giving the one-time waiter at a hotel a chance to shine under Alibaba’s wings. Lu’s leadership quality and great execution has seen him in several leadership positions within Alibaba. 13 years in Alibaba made him one of the early team members to have followed Ma’s journey, seeing the e-commerce firm grow from a David to a Goliath.

I have translated most (like 90+ percent) of his speech. If anything, his speech somewhat echoed Ma’s thoughts which centered around Alibaba’s mission, values, responsibilities, and customers.

“If not me, who? If not now, when?”

Jonathan Lu: Hi family and friends. Today marks my 13th anniversary working with Alibaba. I’m very thankful, as Mr. Jack Ma says, “We are lucky.” But for me, I think that I’m extremely lucky. Because from tomorrow onwards, I’m taking over Alibaba’s mission, our values, responsibility. Taking over our vision of having an open and responsible internet spirit.

I worked at Alibaba’s B2B website for more than three years […] and Taobao for about four years and then back to B2B (, and then on to big data and also managed our mobile operating system, Yun OS. Through this journey, I learned a lot. But I feel more gratitude. It is because of all of you, that’s why I’m able to learn and grow. It is because of our customers who have helped us grow. I’m very thankful to everyone and Jack Ma. Before Alibaba, I was working in a hotel as a waiter.

Jonathan Lu and Jack Ma saying their thanks with a hug

Jonathan Lu and Jack Ma saying their thanks with a hug

But today, I have this chance to take over Alibaba’s culture, fight for our dream. This is really an honor. Alibaba been through a lot and our mission and values are what we need to uphold. We insist that customers are our number one priority. In the future, we will continue to uphold and pass on our values and mission. […]

Today, because we have so many customers and so much data, we have a chance to let every customer be on the platform and have their own space and growth opportunities. Alibaba and Taobao are built for the customers. I hope our team can achieve our mission and let Alibaba’s customers enjoy the best experience when they are onboard our platforms.

Another thing we need to uphold is innovation. For the last 13 years, from Alibaba B2B, Taobao, Alipay [online payment solution], Juhuasuan [deals site], Aliyun [cloud computing], to AliFinance [micro-financing service], we have been innovating from the very start and will continue to do so in the future. My team and I will push harder for innovation. […]

For the last 13 years, Alibaba has done very well in upholding its belief and executing our plans. […] Everyone has this signature at the end of their emails: “If not me, who? If not now, when?”

This is a responsibility, a task […] A big dream and vision requires good execution to complete it. Because of our great execution, customers trust us better. […] Thanks to our customers, partners, and competitors who allow us to continue fighting. Our customers give us warmth. Taobao went through seven non-profitable years, but it has grown thanks to customers’ trust. In the future, the thing that pushes us forward is our dream and family.

Moving forward, I hope we can continue to gain the support of our customers, friends, partners, and family. And I hope everyone at Alibaba and Taobao can stay happy and lead a fruitful life. Thank you, everyone!

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

Read More