Jack Ma's 1999 IPO Speech Introducing Alibaba [Transcript]

I really like Jack Ma’s speech, introducing Alibaba. It shows a rare glimpse of a startup at its very beginnings, before it blew up to become one of the most profitable companies in the world.

I also like language learning. Mandarin is a language that I want to eventually speak. With a language so different from English, transcriptions aren’t always perfect. I wondered what information was left out of the video’s subtitles.

I was looking for a transcription of the speech but couldn’t find it anywhere. I decided to hire a native speaker to transcribe this speech. It only cost $10, so I figured “Why not?”

So here it is:

Alibaba IPO: English/Chinese Transcription


Today, I brought everyone here to talk about what we should do for the next 5 to 10 years.
jīn tiān,wǒ xiǎng bǎ dà jiā qǐng guò lái,gēn dà jiā tàn tǎo zhì shǎo wǔ nián、 shí nián wǒ men yào zuò de shì qíng。
今天,我想把大家请过来, 跟大家探讨以后至少五年、十年我们要做的事情。


So, what will Alibaba become in the future?
nà me,ā lǐ bā bā wǒ men yào zuò chéng shén me yàng?
那么,阿里巴巴我们要做成什么样?


Since we were working on China Pages, I’ve always said our competitors are not domestic websites, but overseas websites.
wǒ xiǎng, cóng huǎng yè de shí hòu tí gòng huǎng yè suǒ yào miáo chéng de duì xiàng, bú shì guó nèi zhàn, ér shì guó jì zhàn diǎn。
我想,从黄页的时候提供黄页所要瞄成的对象,不是国内站,而是国际站点。


Our competitors are not in China, but in America’s Silicon Valley.
wǒ men suǒ yǒu de jìng zhēng duì shǒu bù zài yú zhōng guó,Ér zài yú měi guó de guī gǔ。
我们所有的竞争对手不在于中国,而在于美国的硅谷。


First, if we were to position Alibaba. It should be as a global website and not a domestic website.
rú guǒ shuō, dì yī, wǒ men bǎ ā lǐ bā bā dìng wèi, jiù bǎ tā zuò wéi guó jì zhàn diǎn wǒ men bù yào bǎ tā dìng wèi shì guó nèi zhàn diǎn。
如果说,第一,我们把阿里巴巴定位,就把它作为国际站点 我们不要把它定位是国内站点。


Second, we need to learn the hard working spirit of Silicon Valley.
dì èr gè ne, wǒ xiǎng jiù shì, wǒ men xué huì guī gǔ dì nà zhǒng pīn jìn。
第二个呢, 我想就是,我们学会硅谷的那种拼劲。


If we were just going to work from 8am to 5pm, that’s not how you should work at a high tech company, thats not going to make Alibaba succeed.
rú guǒ shuō wǒ men shì zǎo shàng bā diǎn zhōng shàng bān,wǔ diǎn zhōng xià bān,zhè ge bù shì gǎo gāo kē jì, zhè ge bù shǐ wǒ men ā lǐ bā bā néng chéng gōng。
如果说我们是早上八点钟上班,五点钟下班,这个不是搞高科技,这个不使我们阿里巴巴能成功。


If we have that kind of sprit, going to work from 8am to 5pm, then get out and do something else.
rú guǒ wǒ men yǐ zhè zhǒng jīng shén, bā diǎn zhōng shàng bān wǔ diǎn zhōng xià bān, ok, gǎn jǐn chū qù gàn bié de.
如果我们以这种精神,八点钟上班五点钟下班,ok,赶紧出去干别的。


American’s strengths are their hardware and systems. They are absolutely better at these than us.
rén jiā měi guó rén qiáng, jiù qiáng zài tā men de yìng jiàn, qiáng jiù qiáng zài tā men de xì tǒng。 zài zhè fāng miàn què shí bǐ wǒ men gāo.
人家美国人强,就强在他们的硬件,强就强在他们的系统。在这方面确实比我们高。


But on information and software, Chinese are just as smart as they are.
dàn shì wán xìn xī, wán ruǎn de, zhōng guó rén nǎo dai jué bù bǐ rén jiā chà。
但是玩信息、玩软的,中国人脑袋绝不比人家差。


Everyone here is just as smart as them.
wǒ men zài zuò de suǒ yǒu rén de nǎo dai jué bù bǐ rén jiā chà。
我们在座的所有人的脑袋绝不比人家差。


This is why we dare to compete with the Americans. We absolutely dare to compete.
zhè jiù shì wǒ men gǎn gēn měi guó rén dōu de jī huì. Wǒ men jué duì gǎn dòu.
这就是我们敢跟美国人都的机会。我们绝对敢斗。


Let’s say we are a good team and we know what we want to do.
rú guǒ wǒ men shì hǎo de team, hǎo de tuán duì。 wǒ men zì jǐ zhī dào wǒ men xiǎng zuò shén me, wǒ men xiǎng gàn xiē shén me de shí hòu.
如果我们是好的team,好的团队。我们自己知道我们想做什么,我们想干些什么的时候。


I believe, one of us can take on ten of them.
wǒ xiāng xìn, wǒ men kě yǐ yǐ yī dá shí.
我相信,我们可以以一打十。


We can defeat government agencies, we can defeat a lot of other domestic companies and those large corporations, because of our spirit, our will, and our creative ideas. Only with this spirit can we compete.
wǒ men néng gòu yíng zhèng fǔ jī gòu, wǒ men néng gòu yíng qí tā hěn duō de mín yòng qǐ yè, dà dì nà zhǒng qǐ yè de shí hòu píng de shì wǒ men de jīng shén, wǒ men de yì zhì, wǒ men de chuàng xīn gài niàn。 yòng yī zhǒng pīn jìn cái néng qù dòu。
我们能够赢政府机构,我们能够赢其他很多的民用企业,大的那种企业的时候 凭的是我们的精神,我们的意志,我们的创新概念。用一种拼劲才能去斗。


Otherwise, what difference do we have with them?
Fǒu zé de huà, gēn tā men shén me qū bié ne?
否则的话,跟他们什么区别呢?


Everyone knows the internet is a bubble. The crisis I spoke of earlier is this bubble getting bigger and bigger. When will it burst?
shéi dōu zhī dào internet shì gè pào mò。 wǒ gāng cái jiǎng de wéi jī gǎn jué shì pào mò yuè lái yuè (dà). shén me shí hòu pò?
谁都知道internet是个泡沫。我刚才讲的危机感觉是泡沫越来越(大)。什么时候破?


Yahoo’s stock will fall and eBay’s stock will rise and maybe after eBay’s stock rises, Alibaba’s stock will rise. So dont worry.
Yahoo de gǔ piào diào le, eBay de gǔ piào huì zhǎng。 nà me yǒu yī tiān eBay zhǎng le yǐ hòu, kě néng ā lǐ bā bā zì jǐ de gǔ piào huì zhǎng, suǒ yǐ bù yào dān xīn。
Yahoo的股票掉了, eBay股票会涨。 那么有一天 eBay 涨了以后,可能阿里巴巴自己的股票会涨,所以不要担心。


I believe this internet dream will not burst, this bubble wont burst.
wǒ jué dé internet zhè ge mèng bù huì pò, zhè ge pào mò bù huì pò.
我觉得internet这个梦不会破,这个泡沫不会破。


We will have to pay painful price in the next 3 to 5 years
wǒ men wèi sān wǔ nián suǒ fù chū de dài jià shì fēi cháng chén zhòng.
我们为三五年所付出的代价是非常沉重。


But only with this great price will we succeed.
zhǐ yǒu zhè yàng chén zhòng de dài jià cái huì yíng dé wǒ men wèi lái qǔ dé de chéng gōng。
只有这样沉重的代价才会赢得我们未来取得的成功。


So, the goal is Alibaba will IPO in 2002.
nà me, mù biāo shì 2002 nián ā lǐ bā bā (Inaudible)
那么,目标是2002年阿里巴巴(Inaudible)


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