HONG KONG – Billionaire Jack Ma again encouraged tech workers to embrace the industry’s extreme-overtime culture, defying a growing social media backlash.
The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder once more endorsed the sector’s infamous 12-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week routine as de rigueur for passionate young workers. In a lengthy Sunday blog post, China’s richest man expanded on comments from last week, in which he dismissed people who expect a typical eight-hour office lifestyle.
“As I expected, my comments internally a few days ago about the 996 schedule caused a debate and nonstop criticism,” Ma wrote. “I understand these people, and I could have said something that was ‘correct.’ But we don’t lack people saying ‘correct’ things in the world today, what we lack is truthful words that make people think.”
Ma’s earlier comments stoked a fierce ongoing debate over tales of programers and founders dying from unrelenting stress. Chinese tech workers protested labor conditions on the online code-sharing community GitHub in March under the banner 996.ICU, which quickly became the site’s most popular topic.
“Those who can stick to a 996 schedule are those who have found their passion beyond monetary gains,” he wrote Sunday.