The Chinese boss of JD.com criticizes the "slackers" while the company makes cuts



SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Richard Liu, founder of Chinese online trading giant JD.com Inc., has weighed in on the ongoing debate about the grueling work culture of the Chinese technology industry, lamenting the fact that years of growth "In his business who are not his" brothers. "

FILE PHOTO: Richard Liu, CEO and founder of China's e-commerce company JD.com, expresses himself in an interview with Reuters after delivering products to customers to celebrate the anniversary of the foundation of the company, Beijing, June 16, 2014. REUTERS / Jason Lee / Photo File

Liu's comments, published Friday in the Chinese media, on his personal WeChat account, are the latest contribution to a growing discussion about work-life balance in the technology sector, as the sector slows down after years of growth vertiginous.

They also come amid reports this week that the company is plagued by widespread layoffs. Three company sources told Reuters that the cuts had started earlier this year and had been gaining momentum in recent weeks.

A spokesman for JD.com confirmed the authenticity of Liu's note. He declined to comment on the layoffs, but said some adjustments were underway in the normal course of business.

"JD.com is a competitive workplace that rewards initiative and hard work, which is consistent with our entrepreneurial roots," said the spokesperson. "We find these roots as we seek, develop and reward employees who share the same hunger and values."

Liu, who founded the company that would become JD.com in 1998, explains in a note how, in the early days of society, he set his alarm clock every two hours to wake him up so he could offer his customers a service 24 / 24. – A step that he said was crucial for the success of JD.

"JD over the past four, five years has not eliminated. The number of employees has therefore increased rapidly, the number of donors has increased and increased, while those who work have decreased, "wrote Liu. "Instead, the number of slackers has increased rapidly!"

"If this continues, JD will have no hope! And the company will be rejected only with no heart of the market! The idlers are not my brothers!

The term that he used, which is commonly translated in China as "loafers," can be directly translated to people who drift aimlessly or lose time.

The content of this note was reported Saturday by major Chinese media such as Caijing Financial magazine and the 21st Century Herald, as well as by a platform widely shared on Twitter, the platform Weibo, where it was read more than 400 millions of times.

Cups and slowdown

Three JD employees, who declined to be named because they were not allowed to speak to the media, told Reuters that the company's morale was low after several senior executives and layoffs in the business in the last few weeks. One of them said the cuts had also affected the staff at the Vice President level.

Website Tech The Information reported this week that JD.com could cut its workforce by 8%. JD, which had more than 178,000 full-time employees at the end of last year, said the figure was incorrect.

"It's now a kind of inflection point, where too many people and too many business leaders or department heads have been fired. Nobody is safe, "said one of the sources.

He added that this had affected the productivity of his service and that many workers had controlled Weibo, stock markets or played games rather than focusing on work.

The layoffs "are pretty much every JD employee can talk to," he said.

When asked about morale, JD spokesman said most of the team members were very engaged.

"The changes, even if uncomfortable for some, can be encouraging for most, who are dedicated to our common future."

JD, backed by Walmart Inc., Google Alphabet Inc and Tencent Holdings in China, posted its lowest quarterly revenue growth in February since listing on the stock market in 2015.

Other Chinese technology giants have lowered their growth forecasts and staffing premiums in the context of a downturn that has resulted in better working conditions for their workers.

Work schedule "996", which refers to a work period from 9 am to 9 pm The work day, six days a week, has particularly become the focus of online debates and demonstrations on some coding platforms, where workers have exchanged examples of excessive overtime demands in some companies .

Alibaba's founder and billionaire, Jack Ma, also spoke Friday, telling company employees in a speech that the opportunity to work at such times was a "blessing".

Liu said that JD had not forced his staff to work according to the "996" or even "995" schedule.

"But every person must have the desire to surpass themselves!", He said.

Additional report by Cate Cadell and Zhang Min to BEIJING; Edited by Gerry Doyle

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