After vowing to compete with Google for talent, Huawei now wants to hire ‘geniuses’

It hopes brilliant individuals can nudge the entire company towards further breakthroughs.

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After vowing to compete with Google for talent, Huawei now wants to hire ‘geniuses’

The Chinese phone and telecoms equipment maker is under a ton of pressure. Its own executives expect a revenue drop of up to 30% this year with sales and business in decline after the US ban.

But it maintains its ambitious stance that it wants to roll out world-leading technologies that go on to become industrywide standards and find mass adoption, according to its founder Ren Zhengfei.

Part of the plan to achieve this involves hiring top talents. Ren told the company’s executives last week that the company would like to hire 20 to 30 “geniuses” this year and another 200 to 300 next year, with the idea being that these outstanding intellects inspire the entire staff and nudge them towards big achievements. A transcribed version of that speech was circulated publicly yesterday.

Like most Chinese executives, Ren likes to speak in broad terms instead of specifics, but some of what he’s said in the past helps understand where he’s going with this speech.

He has on many occasions mentioned an unnamed Russian mathematician who worked in Huawei’s lab and helped the company achieve a technical breakthrough from 2G to 3G. He might believe, by hiring the right minds, at scale, Huawei can replicate these successes.

Huwei has a history of acquiring talent–and seems to believe it can find them in Russia. It once bought a Russian facial recognition company called Vocord with all its employees and transferred them to one of its labs.

Ren once also brought up Google’s recruitment of Russian graduates by giving them high salaries, adding that Huawei will pay more than Google to hire them.

The “geniuses” who join Huawei will find a mixed bag. The company is considered the world leader in 5G technology but has also been dealt many blows. Its CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested. The firm was banned from participating in the development of the United States’ 5G networks and in some other countries, and US companies are barred from selling components to Huawei. The Chinese firm has held on and is reacting by relying on alternative in-house technologies such as its own smartphone operating system.