Sunday, June 30, 2013

Huawei Pumps Up Its Innovation Engine from Shenzhen

Silicon Dragon hops on Huawei's train to innovation
A visit to the sprawling headquarters campus of Huawei Technologies Co. in Shenzhen offers an example of China’s climb up the innovation ladder. This telecom-plus company has moved up as a leading edge industry leader with a global footprint as new innovation management processes have been adopted and a series of nifty smartphones and ultra-speed communications services have been launched.
The trend of ‘made in China’ to ‘invented in China’ has been seen most clearly among the Chinese tech startups that scaled over the past decade and continue to micro-innovate, acquire and expand. Now this thread is more prominent among China’s largest multinationals, and some that have not always enjoyed the finest reputation for originality or image.
It’s ironic that this southern Chinese manufacturing city Shenzhen, the first to open up under China’s economic reforms in 1978 and a known as a hub of low-cost knock-offs, has become a center of this new-found corporate innovative energy. The city is home to the telecom-plus companies Huawei and ZTE, social messaging player Tencent, supply chain manager PCH International, electronics maker Foxconn, and Warren Buffet-invested electric car maker BYD.
This Pearl River Delta city still has a brusque style and rough feel, and with its hot and humid climate, could never compare to the lifestyle and creative energy of Silicon Valley despite the mammoth golf course Mission Hills, five-star business hotels Shenzhen Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, upscale shopping malls, movie theatres, and fine Mediterranean cuisine dining.
That innate Chinese knack for inventiveness evident among Shenzhen’s large conglomerates exemplifies China’s ascendancy in the corporate value chain from a production-only base to increasingly, science and technology as a foundation.
Huawei is on the cutting edge by reaching out to showcase it’s hardly an imitator but a creator of original products.  The campaign is part of a well-crafted course to project an open and innovative culture and shake off its image as a cyber-security threat in the U.S. and the residue of protracted legal cases with rival Cisco over intellectual property.
I spent a day at the leafy, college campus-like headquarters of Huawei,  founded in 1988 by engineer Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer with the People’s Liberation Army. English-speaking guides took me around several sleek  showrooms that exhibit a vast array of Huawei technical breakthroughs.  Visitors can pose for souvenir photos and dine in an historic train on a short rail track on the lawn outside a company cafeteria. Keep reading my Silicon Dragon post at Forbes.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Too Many Wantapreneurs In China Can't Be A Good Thing

The arrival of the billionaire angel investor and the rise of the serial entrepreneur in China are trending as hot topics in the Chinese venture and 'techpreneur' community as a new era unfolds. But don’t count on it all working out.
Speaking at Silicon Dragon Beijing 2013, William Bao Bean of SingTel SingTel Innov8 and an angel investor, observes that the venture capital market is shrinking in China while angel money is on the rise though still small. Compared to a U.S. angel pool of nearly $20 billion, he figures that China has about $1 billion, and most of it from friends and family.
Dave McClure, founding partner at 500 Startups, which is branching out to China, observes the same trend of increased angel investment along with a growing number of  incubators that are fueling the startup phenomenon. While all that might sound good, he predicts the result will be too much (dumb) money chasing too many entrepreneurial ventures at excessive valuations. Continue reading this post at Forbes .