Jack Ma, one of world’s wealthiest men and founder of Chinese company Alibaba, has created another stir, this time with his “669" advice to employees. He has advised them to have more sex for a better work-life balance: six times in six days, with an emphasis on nine. Now, while the figure 6 may be an inversion of 9, it’s not what you might think; “nine" is a homophone for “long" in Mandarin, it turns out. On general evidence of human behaviour, it’s safe to assume that there would be many takers of Ma’s advice.
However, while stretch targets are a favourite among bosses, especially in the tech sector, the practical basis on which Alibaba’s chief advocates such a sex life remains unclear. Is it even possible? The last stir Ma caused was when he endorsed the “996" formula of a work week: from 9am to 9pm, six days a week. The idea was to boost output by working long hours. But then, it’s possible that Ma had productivity in mind with his “669" counsel as well. He also spoke of babies as an outcome. This has led many to wonder if he was trying to spark a baby boom without sounding heretical in a country famous for inventing the one-child norm. According to a report in The Japan Times, China’s population shrank in 2018 for the first time in 70 years, and experts warned of a “demographic crisis" that could slow its economy down. Ma’s advice, then, may not be as frivolous as it sounds.