From Apps to Dumplings: China’s Tech Workers Switch Careers, Countries As Layoffs Mount

Employees walking outside the Shenzen headquarters of Tencent. Photo by Getty
Employees walking outside the Shenzen headquarters of Tencent. Photo by Getty
Sept. 1, 2022 6:00 AM PDT

Early this year, Mars Zhao was full of optimism about the future. He had just landed a new job in Shanghai at Chinese internet giant Tencent, putting together advertising campaigns for brands, a position that paid 30% more than his previous job. Despite a government crackdown on tech companies, Zhao was confident enough about the sector’s fortunes that he and his fiancée started shopping for a home.

Then in May, Zhao got laid off. Shanghai’s draconian lockdown, triggered by a surge in new Covid-19 cases, crippled China’s commercial hub. Tencent, Alibaba and other tech companies slashed jobs to cope with what some executives who spoke to The Information described as the worst business environment of their lifetimes. To make matters worse, Zhao’s fiancée lost her marketing job at Mama Bang, a social app for tips on maternity and baby care. The couple shelved their plan to buy a house and focused instead on looking for new jobs as they slashed their expenses in half.

“I never thought things would go downhill so quickly,” Zhao said. “I don’t want to work for internet companies any more.”

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