SF WLTM Programmer

Zhou Nan

Parents are always more anxious about their children finding partners than the children themselves. As soon as you hit 20, the older people in your family start asking when you’ll find someone and get married.

But maybe next time someone asks you why you’re still single, you can tell them: because my mom hasn’t tried hard enough.

What does that look like? At Alibaba’s recent conference in Hangzhou, an aunty, surname Cai, showed up at the conference venue with a marriage advertisement for her daughter, with one unusual condition: she was looking for a programmer.

Frankly, I wish I had a mother like this.


“I heard there are a lot of programmers here, so I came to have a look,” she said.

Aunty Cai arrived on Thursday at the Ant Financial Developers’ hackathon with a flyer that she posted up on a wall. Security at the venue soon asked her to take it down, but in it she explained that she was looking for a son-in-law who was a programmer—one of those sorts of people who are always derided as being unable to find someone.

After listing her daughter’s qualifications (born in 1989, 1.62 meters tall, and in bold, “tolerant and kind”), the conditions for a suitable mate were spelled out clearly: age difference with her daughter should be within the range of five years; the man should have at least a college education, be of good character, honest, dependable, and, yes, a programmer. The flyer emphasized that what mattered was the man’s character, and there were no hard requirements about his finances.


So have programmers and IT workers finally become favorites in the marriage market?

It does seem so. A joke from a few years ago had it that (typically male) programmers, who “have money, talk little, and die early” must make for good husbands. Today, in the eyes of parents calculating marriage prospects, they must seem like hot commodities, given their relatively high incomes, stable work, and reputations for not being prone to stray.

As to her reasons for wanting a programmer son-in-law, Aunty Cai said:

“I see these kids as more honest, and their work is very stable, as is their income. Our family does well enough, as does our child. She’s a more introverted girl, so I think a programmer might be suitable for her.”

Aunty Cai said she had previously gone to other matchmaking spots to look on behalf of her daughter, and friends had made introductions, but she thus far hasn’t found anyone suitable. As her daughter was attending the conference and had happened to mention that there were a lot of programmers around, she went to help her daughter search for someone.

Aunty Cai said: “Things got a little stirred up today. My child found out about all this on Weibo and she’s a little unhappy.” But then, she felt that programmers at the hackathon had to be strong contenders, as they’d already passed through competitions to get there.

Alipay’s official Weibo account, at any rate, approved of Aunty Cai’s methods: “Don’t let her leave emptyhanded!”


Ant Financial reports that there were more than ten CEOs, eight partners, and three CTOs in attendance at the hackathon, born anywhere from 1977 to 1994, so one might say there were good pickings.

And attendees weren’t exactly opposed to Aunty Cai’s offer.

One programmer at the hackathon named Li Tao laughed when asked what he thought: “I’m single too, she could consider me.”

The security personnel notwithstanding, Li said he didn’t think Ms. Cai had really disrupted anything at the competition, and as a programmer he wasn’t opposed to matchmaking. “A few years ago, when I was younger, I was a little resistant to it, but now I think that if two people can get along, then meeting through matchmaking is acceptable.”

Li works at a charity startup with just half a dozen people, of whom “several” are single, mainly because programmers concentrate their energy on their work, have long hours, and therefore don’t have the time or opportunity to socialize or make friends. But he believes that programmers also have a number of merits to offer, such as being detailed and earnest by training.

With the rise of the internet economy, shared bikes and hailed rides, WeChat and Alipay, it does seem that programmers are the new profession of middle-class promise.

Still, I couldn’t help but remind Aunty Cai that the previous week, when popstar Lu Han’s fans nearly broke the internet, who was it that got pulled out of his own wedding to deal with the problem?

A programmer.