Alibaba's Jack Ma: Investors, entrepreneurs are like husbands and wives

An employee is seen behind a glass wall with the logo of Alibaba at the company's headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, April 23, 2014. Mr Jack Ma, the founder and executive chair of Alibaba Group Holding, said investors
An employee is seen behind a glass wall with the logo of Alibaba at the company's headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, April 23, 2014. Mr Jack Ma, the founder and executive chair of Alibaba Group Holding, said investors and entrepreneurs can fall out like domestic couples squabbling over their children in a blog post published late on Monday as the Chinese e-commerce juggernaut prepares for its blockbuster initial public offering. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Mr Jack Ma, the founder and executive chair of Alibaba Group Holding, said investors and entrepreneurs can fall out like domestic couples squabbling over their children in a blog post published late on Monday as the Chinese e-commerce juggernaut prepares for its blockbuster initial public offering.

"The relationship between investors and entrepreneurs is like a couple's, nobody can say who is taking advantage of the other," Mr Ma said in an emoticon-filled post, written on Alibaba's mobile social networking app Laiwang.

"Also, it is common for them to quarrel and break up because they have different opinions over how to raise and educate their child," he said.

Alibaba, the world's biggest e-commerce company, is preparing for its US IPO after filing its prospectus last week . This has the potential to be the biggest tech company listing yet, according to analysts, surpassing Facebook's US$16 billion filing in 2012. "Investors know they aren't your guardian angel," Mr Ma continued. "The reason they invest in you isn't because they're kind-hearted."

In a letter Mr Ma sent to employees before the IPO filing, Ma emphasised that shareholders were not his priority.

"After the IPO we'll still uphold the policy of 'customers first, employees second, and shareholders third,'" he wrote.

Mr Ma's chequered past with investors has raised concerns among some ahead of the IPO.

In 2011 a decision to spin off Alipay, the online payment arm of then-listed Alibaba.com, caused a row between the company and major stakeholders Yahoo and Softbank.

Alibaba, Yahoo and SoftBank settled the matter in 2011, but not before Mr David Einhorn, the Greenlight Capital hedge fund manager, sold all of his Yahoo shares in frustration at what he deemed mutual "finger-pointing" between the companies.

"Finding money is difficult, finding intelligent money is even harder, and finding a way to harmoniously co-exist and develop with your investors after the investment is the hardest," said Mr Ma in Monday's post.