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NEWSLINE

Sex and Work Lessons from Guru Ma

Billionaire Jack Ma is carefully changing his image from a vibrant entrepreneur to an explicit life coach.


HEAD SHOT

  1. China’s richest man Jack Ma, while giving a toast during Alibaba annual staff’s group wedding, urged his employees to follow a 669 mantra to their sex life.
  2. 669 denotes consummating six times in six days with longevity denoted by number 9 (nine means ”long’ in Chinese) key.
  3. The remarks from Ma was supposed to be a lighthearted wordplay on his ‘996’ working hours remark that struck controversy a month ago.
  4. Alibaba founder’s remark has come under criticism with netizens in China and globally unhappy with his seemingly ‘lewd’ comments.

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During Ali Baba’s annual group employee wedding event, Ma urged the 102 newlywed employees to have sex 6 times a day and procreate to have a product (kid) to make the marriage a success. } Credits: BI South Africa

Jack Ma is China’s richest man and one of the world’s most colourful billionaires. He has starred in his own kung fu short film. Furthermore, he performed an epic Michael Jackson-inspired dance routine at Alibaba’s 18th anniversary last year.

In China, Jack Ma is looked at with deep appreciation from the consumers and strong loyalty and dedication from his employees. His open management style and vibrant episodes have drawn comparisons with late visionary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Like Jobs, Ma takes pride in being a liberal and intellectual person. He has fiercely defended his policies in the open and is never shy to come up with witty, albeit controversial remarks.



In his latest episode of witty wordplay, Ma has taken a step further in his approach to lending literal advice. Not just work-related, Ma’s useful expertise now stretched to the bedroom for his employees.

Sex 6 times in 6 days – DURATION IS KEY

Speaking at his company’s mass annual wedding event at the Hangzhou-based headquarters, Ma urged 102 newlywed couples to go on sex marathons for a better life.



The ‘sensitive to some’ comments came at the ‘Ali Day’ on May 10 which is an annual affair where Alibaba promotes mass employee weddings to show appreciation for the employees. Addressing the newlyweds, Ma explained:

‘What is 669? Six days, six times, with duration being the key,’

The word ‘nine’ is a homophone with the word for ‘long’ in Chinese.



Wordplay of last month’s 996 comment

Ma was caught in a similar controversy a month ago when he tried to justify his stand of long working hours for employees. Ma had emphasised an acronym called ‘the spirit of 996’. Making a connection, Ma said:

‘At work, we emphasize the spirit of 996. In life, we should follow 669,’

The controversial 996 work schedule propagated by Ma, expects 12-hour shifts between 9am and 9pm during a six-day week. The ‘996’ quote lead to a lot of criticism because of his unrealistic expectations from his employees.


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Vibrant entrepreneur Jack Ma starred in his own Kung fu short film. | Credits: brandinginasia.com

China’s labour law policy fixes the work rate at a maximum of 40 hours per week. But such jurisdictions are being ignored by big corporations and billionaires like Ma.

Social media flak

Controversy kicked up when the quote was uploaded on to Alibaba’s official page on Weibo with a wink emoji. Internet citizens were, disappointingly for Ma, unable to read the wit and humour he had intended.

Some top-rated comments on social networks included:

‘Making a lewd joke in public and notoriously promoting it – are you being responsible to minors? Thumbs down this time,’

‘Who on earth would have the energy to 669 at home after 996 during work?’

KPIs for work and KPIs for home

Ma was also an officiant at the ceremony, where he then gave crucial life tips to his newlywed employees.



Ma urged the couples to procreate – as children are a better investment than property. Ma said:

‘The first KPI of marriage is to have results. There must be products. What is the product? Have children.’

In line with China’s national policy

Ma’s comments come at a time when China is struggling to get a hold of the falling birth rate which is amplifying pressure on the country’s sluggish economy. Babies born in China stood at 15 million in 2018, which was 2 million less than the previous year and lowest since 1961.



The issue has been hard to address even after the Xi Government decided to do away with its one-child policy in 2016. But young couples are increasingly opting against pregnancies because of concerns like rising living costs, and expensive high-quality education.

When explaining his stance, Ma opined:

“Marriage is not for the purpose of accumulating wealth, not for buying a house, not for buying a car, but for having a child together,”



The ‘996’ controversy

In remarks posted on Alibaba’s social media account last month, Ma had explained how he and early employees used to work long hours and has said it’s a blessing in disguise. Ma’s remark read:

‘Many companies and many people don’t have the opportunity to work 996. If you don’t work 996 when you are young, when can you ever work 996?’

From Jack Ma to Guru Ma

Jack Ma, who is known as Ma Yun in Chinese describes himself as an accidental entrepreneur. After discovering the potential of internet, Ma gave up his university teaching job to get into the online business.



Today, Ali Baba group has interests and roots across Chinese and world online industry. It’s brands include Tmall.com for business-to-consumer transactions, andTaobao, China’s most popular online consumer marketplace. It holds a stake in China’s Twitter counterpart Weibo and bought the South China Morning Post newspaper in 2015.

Ali Baba is also a significant player in online payments and films. The conglomerate is investing into wide spectrum of opportunities, including offline retail, cloud computing, meal delivery and advertising.



In September 2018, the billionaire tycoon revealed plans of gradual retirement and moving towards philanthropy focused on education.

Yesterday’s development reveals that ‘sex education’ might be a big part of Ma’s plans.

And the practice of giving free advice from office bay to the bed, might be a part of the intended change in persona that Ma is undertaking. Perhaps, that of a Guru Jack Ma.


PARTING SHOT

  1. Ma’s ‘996’ remark in April to justify his practice of long working hours for employees fired controversy.
  2. Ma urged his 102 newlywed employees and their partners to procreate – ‘At work, we emphasize the spirit of 996. In life, we should follow 669,’ Ma said.
  3. His comments were criticised on the internet as lewd and irresponsible after they were posted on Ali Baba’s Weibo page.
  4. However, Ma’s advice to procreate and have more kids is in line with the Chinese government’s drive to check the dwindling birth rate in the country.


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