Chinese tech magnate Colin Huang announced that he would be leaving his chairman position at Pinduoduo, a company he founded in September 2015.
Huang and Pinduoduo said in a statement Wednesday that he would be exploring “new, long-term opportunities”. Huang is China’s seventh richest person, worth more than $50 billion.
Huang’s departure is very abrupt, especially considering that Pinduoduo just overtook its leading competitors, JD.com and Alibaba, posting 788 million annual buys on its platform in 2020. Figures released late Wednesday show that Pinduoduo is China’s largest e-commerce firm.
Shares in Pinduoduo’s stock plummeted 8% after the news was released, causing Huang to lose approximately $4 billion nearly overnight.
Despite its success, Pinduoduo has come under fire recently for its employee well-being. Two Pinduoduo employees have died in 2021, one of them from a suicide. A third employee was fired from the company after citing grievances with Pinduoduo’s workplace culture according to the New York Times.
These deaths, along with demonstrations from employees of other tech companies, have shifted global attention to Chinese workers. Employees in most Chinese tech firms work a “996 schedule”, asking employees to work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week.
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