"One of the highest costs in an organization is high employee turnover. A culture that is less focused on hours put in, may also become more effective if the focus is turned to output versus input," said Rui Ma, a San Francisco-based investor who has funded startups in China and North America. For some companies and employees, working 996 became a badge of honor and Silicon Valley heavyweights such as Sequoia Capital's Mike Moritz highlighted it as a competitive advantage over the United States. But a 996 backlash surfaced publicly in April, when a group of programmers launched an online protest against the practice.
Supporters published a crowdsourced list of companies that engage in long overtime hours, which included big tech names such as Baidu, Tencent Holdings, and delivery service app Ele.me. The protest prompted a public debate about work hours in China's tech industry, and spurred reactions from at least 10 Chinese tech moguls, including Ma, who initially defended the practice. Chinese state media said 996 violated the country's labor laws, which mandate an average working week of 44 hours.
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