Despite criticism of employee deaths and harsh working hours, China’s e-commerce Pinduoduo stock price and downloads are unwavering | GLM

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The fast-growing Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo survived its public relations storm after the death of an employee ignited criticism of the company’s harsh working hours. There is.

The much-talked-about 21-year-old employee collapsed on his way home from work at midnight at the end of 2020. The cause of death has not been clarified, but internet users speculate that she may have died from overwork.

Posts with the hashtag “#PinduoduoEmployeeSuddenDeath” reached 300 million posts at China’s SNS Weibo. Separately, another Pinduoduo employee jumped from his apartment on the 27th floor and committed suicide on January 9, China time. Local labor authorities are reportedly scrutinizing the working conditions of Shanghai-based Pinduoduo.

On January 10, a former Pinduoduo employee protested the company’s stressful work culture in a video, fueling public criticism of Alibaba’s biggest rival. He says employees at Pinduoduo headquarters are required to work at least 300 hours a month (about 75 hours a week), while employees in the newly established grocery delivery department work at least 380 hours. Claimed to be required. The employee who collapsed on his way home was engaged in the grocery business of Pinduoduo in the western part of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Employees working on a particular Pinduoduo project could work more than 300 hours a month, but it’s not compulsory, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. The company as a whole is obliged to work staff from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm.

No comment was received from Pinduoduo.

Long working hours in China are not limited to Pinduoduo. A series of incidents has rekindled the debate over the term “996,” which refers to employees working six days a week from 9 am to 9 pm (the term is found in China’s fierce Internet industry, and others. It may also refer to a harsh labor system in the form of).

Despite public backlash and calls for a boycott of Pinduoduo, the company’s position in the market seems unwavering. According to data analytics firm Jiguang, the company’s app downloads have been stable since the first employee incident two weeks ago, with some days with a slight increase in installs. .. As of January 8, 2021, the number of Pinduoduo installations has reached about 650 million.

The company’s shares traded in New York rose from $ 144 on December 28, 2020 to $ 187 on January 5, 2021. On the 11th of March, it fell slightly to $ 174 (about 18,000 yen). Several Pinduoduo VC investors that TechCrunch has contacted declined to comment on this article.

These numbers may tell a lot. Despite efforts to attract more users in the wealthy urban areas of China, a significant number of Pinduoduo users live in inland and rural towns of China. The big city-based tech giant “996” culture may be far away for them, but the bargains on the e-commerce app Pinduoduo, famous for its “stupidly cheap” products, are visibly touchable. It is.

Related article: Startups counterattack long working hours in China

Category: Internet service
Tags: Pinduoduo, e-commerce, China

Image Credit: Jack Ma via Weibo

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(Translation: Nakazato)

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Rachel Maga
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life's biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.