Ali Day, the annual appreciation for Alibaba employees and their families, this year took place on the cloud for the first time against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, evoking memories of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003 that led to the event’s creation.
This weekend’s online celebration, which marks the resilience and spirit demonstrated by Alibaba employees during that SARS crisis continue to inspire the company even today. Ali Day is in its 16th year.
Instead of opening its Hangzhou main campus and offices around the world for friends and families to visit, as Alibaba usually does on Ali Day, the first-ever “Cloud Ali Day” featured most of its activities online. It included a virtual family meeting led by Alibaba executives and a livestreamed award ceremony to recognize the contributions of Aliren (what Alibaba calls its employees) in combating Covid-19.
More than 30 Aliren received awards for their service.
“Seventeen years ago, Alibaba had around 800 employees when SARS happened. Today, our Alibaba Digital Economy has grown to more than 110,000 Aliren that encompasses 160 veterans who experienced SARS. Without the robust operations and infrastructure that we have built over the past few years, we wouldn’t been able to act as swiftly as we did in response to the impact of Covid-19,” said Alibaba Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang.
“We have definitely made progress. Our growth has been powered by the dynamics of this era and also by our perseverance over the past 20 years. What remains unchanged is the Alibaba spirit and the Alibaba culture,” added Zhang.
An Alibaba employee showed symptoms of SARS after returning from a business trip to Guangzhou in May 2003. As a safety precaution, the Company sent home all of its staff to stay in self-imposed quarantine. Alibaba employees took their work. Family members also pitched in. Customers never noticed the difference.
This time around, when Covid-19 hit, Alibaba is a much-bigger digital economy. To mitigate the impact of its effects and prevent the gears of commerce from seizing up, Alibaba Group and Ant Financial announced a comprehensive set of relief measures to support the small and medium-sized businesses that are its lifeblood. Most recently, Alibaba launched the “2020 Spring Thunder Initiative” to further step up its efforts to help SMEs recover and succeed as China’s economy regains its footing.
“Moving forward, we will continue to work even harder. We will leverage the power of our commerce, technology and innovative thinking to offer better and more complete services to our customers, our consumers and our community,” concluded Zhang.