There’s a certain point after which numbers start to lose meaning. It happens often when I read about the distances between galaxies or the number of stars in the universe. Closer to home, it happens with companies whose revenues have grown to the size – and have exceeded in many cases – of small countries.
Huawei is one of those. When I read up that its revenues had crossed $86 billion, it was just another number my mind couldn’t comprehend and contextualize. Having returned from China after seeing with my eyes what goes into a mega-corporation that generates that kind of revenue – I have a far better idea.
“If you use any kind of technology in daily life, chances are that Huawei probably made a part of the hardware or software powering it.”
That’s a quote by a Huawei executive and it is a pretty succinct summary of the impact of Huawei. I got a chance to visit the company’s Experience Center in Beijing and it’s basically Disneyland for a tech enthusiast.
It’s an evolving showcase of the cutting edge technology developed by Huawei courtesy of over $15 billion spent on R&D each year. The company operates a network of research and innovation centers in collaboration with partners – and this is the place where all that work is proudly showcased.
It takes a couple of hours to go through the zone and along the way you’re greeted with hardware products, software innovations, and digital experiences.
From traffic management systems that are actually deployed in the Safe City projects in Pakistan to the first 5G chip in the world, from smart bands for cows designed for cattle farmers to smart WiFi that can beam across an entire city, it’s a glimpse into how the technology of the future is going to impact our lives – and how it already does.
Powering all this innovation are 180,000 Huawei employees across the world. Around 60,000 of these people work at the Huawei Campus HQ in Shenzhen, China. The 345-acre campus was built at a staggering cost of $1.5 billion and its 12 blocks are modeled after centuries-old European architecture. Each block represents the city it was inspired by and features names like Oxford and Paris.
You’d expect a tech company to have a futuristic campus but Huawei says it chose this design because “it represents the world’s classic landmarks that accumulated the wisdom and essence of humanity for hundreds of years, recording a history of failures and successes.”
It’s a decision that has drawn a fair amount of criticism since the HQ debuted but honestly, being there was an experience in itself. Marble fountains and statues, ceilings hundreds of feet high and an electric train that ran through the blocks made me feel like I had stepped back in time. An odd choice, perhaps, but it doesn’t take away from the grandeur of it.
Words can only do so much so here’s a look at the campus itself:
Huawei Campus HQ photos courtesy of S.M.Bukhari
Note: This article was produced in partnership with Huawei, who sponsored a trip to China for select Pakistani journalists