Inside the Feds’ Battle Against Huawei

Wired | 1/17/2020 | Garrett M. Graff
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Gradually, Huawei’s success in the developing world opened up doors in more advanced economies. Edward Zhou, who started as an engineer in 1996 and is now vice president of global public affairs, remembers sleeping in customers’ machine rooms to debug systems on the fly during the early days when Huawei still had a lot to prove. Back then, Huawei’s telephone technology was not equal to that of its Western peers, but it was much cheaper to operate. “Our customers didn’t trust the technology, but they trusted the people, because we worked very hard,” Zhou says. He later went to posts in Spain, Germany, and Japan.

In 2003, Huawei won a contract in Russia to build an optical-cable transmission project stretching across 1,800 kilometers in Siberia. The same year, it landed a contract to build a backbone transmission network for France. By 2005 more than half of the company’s revenue was coming from outside of China. Time named Ren to its 100 Most Influential People list. As the smartphone age arrived, Huawei began making not only hulking transmission equipment but also its own branded phones, some 600 million of which are now in circulation. Today, Huawei’s red logo and retail stores full of sleek furniture, pale wood, tablets, laptops, and smartphones seem to be as common on Chinese streets as Starbucks mermaids.

Ren - Culture - Zeal - Market - Time

Ren fostered a corporate culture of mili­taristic zeal. “The market has no time for tears,” Ren once told employees. “It respects only the brave.”

Even as Huawei has grown into a global player, its structure remained unusual among major Chinese companies. It is not publicly traded like Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu. Unlike ZTE, the other major Chinese telecom manufacturer, it does not have the state as its biggest shareholder. Instead, the company is employee-owned, with Ren holding just over 1 percent of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Wired
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