Chinese Billionaire Extols Virtues of 72-Hour Work Week

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, called the "996" a "huge blessing"

Founder and Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma. (Photo by Wang HE/Getty Images)
Founder and Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma. (Photo by Wang HE/Getty Images)
By The Editors / April 16, 2019 12:56 pm

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In a lengthy rant posted online Sunday, Jack Ma, the billionaire founder and chairman of Alibaba, encouraged his company’s tech workers to embrace the virtues of working 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

Known as the “996,” working a 72-hour week is not a requirement for Alibaba’s workers, but Ma said those who choose not to do it, “won’t taste the happiness and rewards of hard work.”

“I personally think that 996 is a huge blessing,” he said in his blog post. “How do you achieve the success you want without paying extra effort and time?” Those who can stick to a 996 schedule are those who have found their passion beyond monetary gains.”

Ma also said any workers who were considering joining Alibaba needed to be prepared to work 12 hours a day to have success. “Or why bother joining? We don’t lack those who work eight hours comfortably,” he said.

Richard Liu, chief executive of Alibaba arch-foe JD.com, also made comments embracing the tech industry’s extreme-overtime culture and said workers who do not take kindly to 996 are “slackers.”

Liu said he could handle an “8116” ( 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., six days a week) and work 90 hours per week.

Like Liu and Ma, Tesla founder Elon Musk has also defended working long hours in the past. “There are way easier places to work, but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week,” Musk posted on social media in November.

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