Monday 14 October 2019

Alibaba boss urges his staff to have sex 'six times in six days'

Jack Ma, founder of tech giant Alibaba (Chinatopix via AP)
Jack Ma, founder of tech giant Alibaba (Chinatopix via AP)

Sophia Yan

One of China's wealthiest men, Jack Ma, founder of tech giant Alibaba, is urging his employees to have more sex in pursuit of a better work-life balance.

Mr Ma gave a light-hearted speech at an event at which dozens of Alibaba couples were married in a group ceremony, stressing that a balanced home life was important for long-term happiness and health, and dubbed his philosophy "669".

"We want 669 in life. What is 669? Six times in six days; the emphasis is on nine," he said at the company gathering, referring to sex, and using a play on words, as the word "nine" in Mandarin is a homophone for the word "long".

Mr Ma's "669" was in reference to a popular term that describes the Chinese industry's work culture of "996" - a rough schedule of 9am to 9pm, six days a week, often without overtime pay.

Overworking is common in China and seen as a way to show dedication.

However, Mr Ma prompted controversy recently after he endorsed the overwork culture, posting online in April that "to be able to work 996 is huge bliss", arguing that milestones only come with great sacrifice. Other Chinese tech executives such as Richard Liu, the chief executive of, an e-commerce firm, agreed, saying that slackers were not "brothers".

All this inflamed an already fraught discussion in industry about the societal pressure to give up everything for a job.

In March, a group of developers started a project online called "", alluding to the idea that working such hours could land someone in the intensive-care unit.

Mr Ma's comments caused a stir online, with some criticising the businessman's comments as "disgusting". Others wondered whether he was attempting to encourage a baby boom given China's birth rate hit a record low of 15 million births last year.

Irish Independent

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