Chinese engineer flies to Singapore for job at ecommerce giant Shopee but offer is cancelled when he lands at Changi Airport

A Chinese engineer said he learned ecommerce giant Shopee rescinded his offer after landing in Singapore with his wife and dog. The city state is an attractive destination for Chinese workers and companies amid a slowing economy at home, but cutbacks are roiling tech firms worldwide. — SCMP

Shopee, operator of the largest ecommerce platform in South-East Asia, has cancelled a number of employment offers last minute, which gained attention in China when one worker posted his plight on WeChat after arriving in Singapore.

“I landed with my wife and dog and was told my offer (from Shopee) was cancelled while I was still at the airport,” a user going by “Lin Ge goes to Nanyang” wrote on his official WeChat account over the weekend.

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The cuts from Shopee, owned by Tencent Holdings-backed Sea Limited, have largely affected technology positions in Singapore, where the company is based. Sea is one of many tech companies around the world cutting back amid a slowing global economy and fears of recession.

The company confirmed to the Post it cancelled some tech roles. “Due to adjustments to hiring plans on some tech teams, a number of roles at Shopee are no longer available. We are working closely to support those affected,” Sea said in a statement.

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Shopee is offering compensation of one month’s salary and travel expenses to those affected, according to a source close to company who declined to be named as the information is not public.

“Going back to three days ago, I might not have believed it,” Lin Ge said in his WeChat post. “This WeChat official account was created on May 17, 2022, to share my life in Singapore and algorithm technology. But it turns out my first article is about my unemployment, job hunting and how to negotiate compensation.”

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Lin Ge’s story has attracted wide attention on Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Maimai, with some users sharing similar experiences. “Three days before officially joining Shopee, I received a notice that my offer had been cancelled,” one person wrote on Maimai, a professional networking site that rivals Microsoft’s LinkedIn. The post attracted hundreds of comments and reposts.

Other areas of Shopee have also been affected by cutbacks this year. In June, the company laid off workers from its food delivery and payment arms, in addition to reducing staff in Argentina, Chile and Mexico, according to media reports, citing an internal email from CEO Chris Feng.

Sea reported widening losses in the second quarter amid many market challenges. Net losses more than doubled to US$931.2mil (RM4.16bil), 42% higher than consensus estimates of US$655mil (RM2.93bil), according to Refinitiv data.

Singapore has become one of the most popular destinations for Chinese workers looking to flee a slowing economy at home and strict Covid-19 control measures that are still in effect. After the Shanghai lockdown earlier this year, Huang Yimeng, the billionaire co-founder of video gaming giant XD, said he is relocating abroad with his family next year.

The city state has also become increasingly attractive to some Chinese companies. Shein, a Nanjing-based fast-fashion e-commerce company that primarily operates overseas, has been ploughing resources into Singapore. Founder and CEO Chris Xu became a permanent resident.

Other Big Tech firms in China have been “optimising” their workforces to contend with the economic slowdown. Tencent downsized its workforce for the first time since 2014, trimming nearly 5,500 employees from its payroll in the second quarter. That same quarter, smartphone maker Xiaomi cut more than 900 jobs, nearly 3% of its workforce, according to its earnings report. – South China Morning Post

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