ack Ma managed to creep out more than a hundred newlywed employees and their spouses on Friday, proclaiming that while they work hard, they should also play hard.
Alibaba and other Chinese tech companies have come under fire this year for promoting a “996” work schedule, meaning that employees should work from 9 am to 9 pm for six days each week. The company celebrated its 15th annual “Ali Day” on Friday, highlighted by a ceremony for those employees who got married over the past year.
Ma presided over the ceremony and used the opportunity to defend the “996 spirit” while advocating that in their personal lives, the couples should follow “669.”
“What is 669? Six days, six times, with “longer” being the key,” Ma smiled to the crowd, using a pun on the Chinese pronunciation of the number nine. Alibaba was evidently so proud of this crass double entendre that it posted the quote on the company’s official Weibo account complete with a winky face.
During the rest of his speech, which was live-streamed online, Ma encouraged his employees to have more children, telling them that marriages must turn up “results” and calling kids a better investment than property.
Ma’s message echoes that of the Chinese government which for decades ordered that couples should be limited to one child, only to abruptly change course in 2016 as it became increasingly apparent that a demographic crisis was looming.
So far, China has not managed to reverse the trend and its birth rate continues to fall. It remains to be seen if Ma’s employees will take his words to heart, however, netizens have pointed out that “996” and “669” don’t seem terribly compatible. “Get off work at 9 pm. Make it home by 10:30 pm. Who has the energy?” wrote one.
Shanghaiist has reached out to Mrs. Jack Ma for comment.
[Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misinterpreted the meaning of “669” as having sex six times a day, six times a week. Instead, Ma actually recommends a more reasonable six lovemaking sessions in six days, still with an emphasis on the duration.]