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How Huawei controls its employees in Europe (netzpolitik.org)
256 points by imartin2k 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 249 comments

Both Apple and Huawei do R&D in Europe at a massive scale, hiring the top researchers and the best minds from universities, research labs and from the competition (Nokia, Ericsson, ARM, Imagination, even intelligence services) with top pay to boot.

While Apple is nowhere near as evil as Huawei, it's sad when you think about it, that EUs best and brightest minds, educated with EU money are helping strengthen the Chinese and US tech titans instead of the domestic ones but Europe dug it's own grave here by not funding its domestic tech sector enough and sleeping at the wheel while US and China were stealing their lunch from underneath their nose.

> Europe dug it's own grave here by not funding its domestic tech sector enough

But nobody was funding Apple. U.S. just created the environment where tech business can thrive and let the competition do the rest. EU market on the contrary is still controlled by century-old companies.

From my (not that long) experience with German tech job market, I've got an impression that US-based companies normally have better (more open, more inclusive, more developer-centric) culture and better compensation.

There was a lot of government money, directly or indirectly, involved in keeping Apple afloat and before that, bringing noticeable revenue. Then there's more state rather than federal, if you care about the difference, money from school systems hooked onto Apple II, which made it so that it was produced up to early 1990s.

Similarly a non-trivial point in financial history of Sun was contracts that indirectly depended on NSA.

Then you have third-order money flows, where lots of govt money flew into various projects, which enriched people enough that they could buy Apple products.

I'd argue that the biggest difference is that the government money was very free flowing, and often goal-oriented and who actually got it was a detail that wasn't even taken into account unless you failed to deliver. Meanwhile a lot of EU funding grants, depending on country, involves a lot of paperwork instead of just govt buying from you.

Educational use of the Apple II wasn't about policy though, it was just that the Apple II was already incredibly popular and had lots of software (Visicalc for example, the first spreadsheet) available. It's commercial success drove educational adoption not the other way round.

Conversely the BBC Micro was picked as a winner by the BBC back when it's predecessor systems were also-rans. This drove educational purchases, and ultimately led to ARM.

Honestly the main thing that drove the US tech sector was the invention of the integrated circuit, and massive scale. Europe back then was still very balkanised, the EEC (which became the EU) was only just getting going.

Fully agree with your last point, Europe was and still is much more bureaucratic.

My last point was explicitly also about how it enabled your first paragraph. Apple II at the time wasn't cheap, nor were other computers. Government grants for computers in education created a market that could be then targeted by Apple (and anyone who thinks Apple didn't dedicate serious resources into capturing that market is naive at best)

But the goal of the government funding was not to subsidise or support use tech companies. It was to improve education.

This has been a long comment chain to say American governments bought computers to use them for their work.

This is however a key thing that the US is doing better than the EU.

US - I help you by buying your product EU - I will buy the product of your foreign competitor, but you can apply for a research grant, that only pays for half of your investment and comes with bureaucratic overhead that cost more than we pay you

I agree, and I wish this particular comment of yours were further up the chain.

> I'd argue that the biggest difference is that the government money was very free flowing, and often goal-oriented and who actually got it was a detail that wasn't even taken into account unless you failed to deliver. Meanwhile a lot of EU funding grants, depending on country, involves a lot of paperwork instead of just govt buying from you.

That's an interesting point. I believe this paperwork is there to prevent corruption somehow. Yet, from the unshakeable position and government ties of the old industry one might conclude that the result was exactly the opposite.

The purpose is not to avoid corruption, it is to have the ability to plausibly deny ts existence by having paper trail of a faux-fair process that was followed.

Do you have any actual sources about the government keeping apple afloat? Or are you saying since they had educational contracts they were being kept afloat?

Does Airbus have government contracts? Does Ericsson or Nokia? Do you believe European governments contracts with these companies are keeping them afloat?

Airbus planes used to be given away almost for free, it’s first few decades it was entirely state funded.

Apple's federal sales division was one of the strongest sources of revenue during Apple's lowest points, thanks to very good integrated sales & support team that kept islands of Macs in various governmental locations, often doing specialised tasks as graphics/audio workstations and the like.

But to get those contracts there had to be appropriate spending by government, and that's what I meant in my comment.

Airbus does have defense contracts.

This is valid, but in reality Apple wins because they are fundamentally better managed in most ways that most European companies, point blank.

That's a hard pill to swallow because it doesn't boil down to simple things like R&D spending by sector.

Also, it means there's not that much the state apparatus can necessarily do.

It's a fantastical misunderstanding of markets to suggest that 'government does stuff and then we win'. Obviously government is very important in systematic ways, and even more so in direct ways to help nations get over their limited size to do things like 'Airbus'.

And while Steve Jobs probably would not have thrived in Europe, he did however in the US and there isn't quite a corollary in Europe.

There are so many factors.

And most paradoxically - many of the factors that hinder Europe from expansion, have benefits in the other direction. German culture is much more formal, the gears run pretty well there, but they also are more resistant to change. Attitudes towards work/live balance means a high standard of living, and that's worth something of course.


One thing worth nothing that nobody seems to talk about so I tend to highlight it, is the media participation in industry. In the US, CNN will talk about 'RobinHood' and 'Bumble' and 'Tesla' endlessly. The amount of free PR and narrative building is incalculable.

Most of the rest of the world is not like that.

How do you compete as a little European entity that nobody talks about, when CNN is giving millions of 'free impressions daily' to your competitors?

As one of many differentiation.

Of course, in China, you have a managed economy in which the winners are effectively chosen, and the state backs them.

Normally - this does not work.

But when you have a nation that is 'behind' typically you an have some central planners make rational investments in 'infrastructure' and specific industry. Much like the post-war planning of Korea and Japan. After a while, the marginal returns to 'low hanging fruit' dissapears.

China continues with that approach into the high tech world. While they build 'highways' (much like US strategic investment in the highway system in the 1950's) - they're also building out consumer payments (Ali), taxi services (DiDi), networking (Huawei) etc. - in a quasi capitalist way - things which, in the Western world we opted to have done in private markets.

Frankly, the biggest difference between USA and Europe is that USA is comparably homogenous market, especially in high-tech, whereas EU even with common market isn't.

It also means that Micheal Dell starting a company building computers in garage from parts, like many many companies in just in Poland, let alone EU, he had ready made, near-zero extra cost, market of 235 million people that spoke effectively the same language, required no export declarations, and had nation-wide ways to market.

This is a real differentiator.

BTW, China is internally very very competitive, though it appears they put focus on smaller companies than big american style corps (even though they have such as well, obviously)

China has intense competition within a company. Many teams all working on the same problem and all competing.

Usually in a given sector their are three champion companies who fiercely compete with each other. Eg China telecom unicom and mobile

Or tencent Ali (and now) bytedance

Government subsidy / R&D spending would help with all of that. Less efficiently run? Ok, that extra money gives you more resources to try to make up for it. Take some extra moonshots. Give things longer runways.

Foreign companies hiring people away? Now you can pay more to compete.

Less well publicized? Buy yourself some attention just like US companies do.

You aren't trying to build the most immediately efficient company with the subsidies, but you're trying to keep local competition in the market, and be less at the whim of external companies.

Money is not usually the problem so 'subsidy' is not it.

A good example is that European companies are not interested in dealing with little startups that are not powerful. They like to deal with 'big brands'. They are unable to make institutional decisions based on more calculated merit, and instead go the safe route.

Entrepreneurs taking smaller risks.

Entrepreneurs not understanding how the VC cycle works.

A lack of proper exits.

The list is long.

Europe has plenty of money and 'competent, regular professional managers' but a dirth of the kind of focus required to make big plays.

I don't know what the answer is.

Apple and Huawei are very recent phenomenons in Europe.

GSM, and today's mobile networks, are essentially products of subsidized European national telcoms.

The problem is rather that Europeans have historically been ineffective or slow at understanding end-user "cultural" products. American pop culture still dominates, while locals usually seem like poor imitations.

But the value produced by FANGs is essentially cultural, rather than technological or industrial. This thinking is suspicious and foreign to European engineers. Boomer engineers and industrialists really struggle to grasp this and it's still a point of contention even though few know how to articulate it.

Maybe I'm reading is wrong, but I couldn't imagine European engineers == boomers.

I'm probably using boomer to refer generally to "stale mindsets".

But the current state is the result of sequences of decisions made in the preceding twenty years. Until it was literally demonstrated by Apple, they entirely dismissed the idea that most value in phones would be generated through an open ecosystem.

There are plenty of people with stale mindsets in the European industrial giants struggling to grasp how electrification and AI will affect their legacies.

I've been there when first EU deployments of iPhones (3G) happened. The only more closed ecosystem was that of cheap value phones that didn't even have J2ME, and that one was still more free on few axes.

It took at least two generations of apple products IIRC to shed american closed ecosystem approach which was rightly seen as total shit - but that knowledge didn't percolate much outside the very small group that had iPhones or worked in telecom high enough to know details of how sausage was made.

There are many things to talk about what Apple did differently, but "open" was not it. Arguably the bigger issue was how due to how Microsoft and Nokia dropped the ball on system software (which resulted in certain lock-step issues with hw), allowing reasonably cheap chance for Apple to appear as huge jump (arguably, UX-wise it was big change, but being used to smartphones I found early iPhone very, very clumsy)

Value produced by Google? How about value drained by Google, esp. privacy and advertising.

About the only value produced by Google being Google Docs and Android. Well, and the rare FLOSS improvements related to these.

Facebook? Similar. Taking over culture is not value. We had better services at around time it was created, but the huge money combined with network effects did the number on them.

Netflix, well. Let's say we had VoD services before them, some even better. Their major cultural win is making exclusive series with the huge money they got invested.

Amazon has one improvement in their sales systems with the remote warehouses. Plus AWS.

Apple at least designs phones.

All of the companies benefited hugely from big cash investment, somehow EU companies don't get these. It's not a matter of culture either, there's plenty enough startups around. But US money is always more and bigger.

You're really taking a lot for granted. I think not seeing and understanding that is a reflection of the larger problem you are complaining about.

Somehow, we need the mindsets of Zara and H&M inside VW, Mercedes etc.

These have been different universes.

That's pretty much it. There was talk of an EU-wide and -funded cloud provider or social network or something like that to gain more independence from US based companies, but right away there was squabbling with various countries arguing about what slice of the cake they should get and what part of the work they should be doing. That's just not going to work.

For innovation in Europe, we need a ton of independent money.

> right away there was squabbling with various countries arguing about what slice of the cake they should get and what part of the work they should be doing

That's just like the NASA SLS project. One of the project's key selling point was that there were work items performed in each of the 50 states.

Even if, through a miracle, the EU countries could agree, how exactly would they expect to hire engineers that could double their income overnight by going to FAANG?

I've been using scaleway, for a small project I started a few months ago[0]. It's similar to Digital Ocean, and it works quite well (no downtime so far, been using it for 2 months). The datacenters are in Europe. Any opinions about it?

[0] shameless plug: keat.app

I use them for some personal stuff. No real issues. I do also have one of their baremetal systems (through online.net or something) which I'm considering moving away from because it's quite slow, but excluding that they seem good. I also use TransIP, similar reviews.

> But nobody was funding Apple. U.S. just created the environment where tech business can thrive and let the competition do the rest.

The US government has always been quite involved in the rise of their tech sector, from funding to being a customer. If you look into the history of Silicon Valley, for example, you find, as often in the US, the role of the military behind early technological developments and geographical location.

A recent example is also SpaceX. It would not exist without decades of government funding for space and without contracts to supply NASA.

So, yes the US created and maintained a good environment but they did help much more than that.


It's usually been in the government's best interest to fund and lend a hand to companies like these. SpaceX can't exist without government funding for the time being and probably quite a bit of time in the future. When they do manage to get people to mars it will be even more so in the government's interest to fund them.

> SpaceX can't exist without government funding for the time being and probably quite a bit of time in the future.

Considering NASA just had huge budget increases in the last few years, I would say your comment is spot on. Clearly the government is allocating more money back into NASA and space exploration so instead of working together, SpaceX will probably hard pressed to get the amount of funding they need from the government now:

The President's Budget Request (PBR) for NASA was released on 11 March 2019, and originally proposed $21.019 billion for fiscal year 2020. A supplemental request was released in May 2019 that proposed an additional $1.6 billion to support an acceleration of the lunar landing goal to 2024. All numbers for the PBR listed on this page include the supplemental request.

- $546.5 million for the Mars Exploration Program, of which $278 million is for the Mars 2020 rover and $109 million is to begin formulation of the next mission in a Mars Sample Return campaign.

- Moves the launch date of the Europa Clipper mission from the late-2020s to 2023, and proposes using a commercial rocket instead of an SLS for launch.

- Walks back the proposal to transition the ISS to commercial operations by 2025: "By 2025, the Budget envisions commercial capabilities on the International Space Station as well as new commercial facilities and platforms to continue the American presence in Earth orbit."

- Increases funding for technology development through the Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative, "which aims to spur the creation of novel technologies needed for lunar surface exploration and accelerate the technology readiness of key systems and components."

- NASA is proposing "increasing facility maintenance activities at all Centers to reduce risk to missions. Increased funding will help reduce the significant backlog of facility maintenance projects and requirements."

- Proposes $1 billion for a Human Lunar Landing System "to enable NASA to begin supporting the development of commercial human lunar landing systems. This acquisition strategy will allow NASA to purchase an integrated commercial lunar lander that will transport astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back."

The compensation difference is ridiculous. You can make literally triple the total-comp in California, with lower taxes, in a very similar cost-of-living environment.

That too, but I was referring to the compensation US-based companies offer in EU as opposed to local employers.

Apple is state funded, they pay close to no tax and they get ton of contracts from governments, just like Tesla, it is alive thanks to funding from the US government

Similar stuff with China!

>But nobody was funding Apple. U.S. just created the environment where tech business can thrive and let the competition do the rest. EU market on the contrary is still controlled by century-old companies.

The US tech sector is essentially pegged by the petrodollar. Countries have to use the dollar to sell oil and then invest their excess dollars in the US economy.

What about Chinese tech sector? Yes, there is a lot of protectionism exercised by the Chinese government, but still Huawei and other big players are not funded by the government, they have to compete really hard to survive.

> Tens of billions of dollars in financial assistance from the Chinese government helped fuel Huawei Technologies Co.’s rise to the top of global telecommunications, a scale of support that in key measures dwarfed what its closest tech rivals got from their governments.

Are you sure? One of the bigger reasons why Huawei is having troubles with rolling out it's hardware (routes, 5G) in Europe and US is how entangled they are with the government.

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/state-support-helped-fuel-huawe...

> but still Huawei and other big players are not funded by the government

Is that a joke ? Huawei is probably the Chinese tech company with the most government involvement. They're a strategic company propped-up as a point of national policy.

Actually the most government funded companies are those companies are failing, state-owned enterprises, which employ many low-skilled people. Meng tried to sell Huawei to Motorola for $7.5billion. The deal didn't go through because CEO change in Motorola. Of course, Chinese government would be a client for Huawei as well as Microsoft and many other companies. Also government owned funds would invest in commercial entities to make money. I have not done full research on Huawei, so I cannot say there is no money invested in Huawei.

If you are worrying about Chinese government controlling the company, actually in China, the government does not need to fund a company to do that. For example, the poverty elimination program was set out by the government, all major companies would be encouraged to participate. If you are 'encouraged' by the government in anywhere around the world, you would participate for a better relationship with the government.

>but still Huawei and other big players are not funded by the government

What makes you think that?

Uhm... Because China needs tech sector as money source, not a money sink maybe? So it is implausible they would spend money on a tech company. I'm not aware of any facts in favor of the contrary.

As far as I can tell the Chinese government primarily sees becoming the technological leader mainly as a strategic goal and not as money source. Not in the short term at least.

Yes. The influence they would have if the large parts of the world depended on them for internet and communications is insane.

Don't they already have a huge money source of being the world's factory?

Huawei got its start by blatantly stealing IP from Cisco and other companies, which is essentially a large subsidy of R&D. That strategy was only possible because the Chinese government shielded them from legal problems.

In other words, the Chinese government effectively forced Huawei's competitors to give them a large subsidy.

LOL Huawei's ownership is concealed in a zillion ways, but it is an open secret that it's owned by the CCP itself, not even the government.

OK, maybe I'm ill-informed on this issue. So Europe's problem is that we've got neither petrodollars nor CCP?

That only applies to petroleum producers, and they could alternatively use those dollars to buy other resources or currencies -- or hold the dollars in reserve.

The US tech sector is supported by the Western world's extremely broad IP protections. In my mind, that's the number-one way in which US tech benefits from the US government.

>that EUs best and brightest minds, educated with EU money are helping strengthen the Chinese and US tech titans

It goes farther than that. Universities in many EU countries are essentially free, even for foreign students.

About 30% of students at my university in Berlin are foreign, coming from mostly Asian, Arabian, and American countries. And you know what? I wouldn't change a thing about it.

This "us vs. them", or more accurately "US vs. them" attitude needs to stop.

> even for foreign students

This is not completely true, it only applies to students from other EU/EEA countries. There are some exceptions for a few other european countries but apart from those, international students still have to pay the tuition.

> This is not completely true, it only applies to students from other EU/EEA countries.

This is incorrect (for Germany) unless you want to go to a university in Baden-Württemberg (one of the 16 states of Germany), which introduced tuition for international students in 2017.

Everywhere else you will pay virtually the same fees[1] as a German national (<1k euro/year), except that you may be required to pay into a 'security fund' for international students if you have the means, which helps less-well-off international students or those who have fallen on hard times to pay those same fees.

Take the TU Berlin as an example: https://www.tu.berlin/en/studying/studienorganisation/finanz...

[1] Note that these fees are not tuition. About half of them pays for a greatly discounted public transport ticket, the other half for an assortment of smaller things.

In France they shot themselves in the foot because of, as often, grand principles:

The government wanted to make foreign students (outside of EEA) in universities pay significant tuition fees but that was shot down as unconstitutional because the constitution states that public education has to be free for everyone and anyone...

They did say there are a few exceptions. Most every country I looked at with the exception of (most of) Germany and one or two others had substantial tuition fees for non-EU/EEA/CH students that were on the order of my in-state university tuition in the US.

correct, but the tuition is peanuts compared to US or in some cases places like India.

Where in my original comment did you read that I have something against foreign students in europe?

Will be very interesting to see how these two different ideologies play out over the coming years. According to the article Huawei favours ethnic Chinese over Europeans especially at management level and I’ve heard the same about TikTok so we have a great opportunity to watch how these competing visions play out

From the article:

>> One ex-employee says there is effectively a glass ceiling for European workers.

> About 30% of students at my university in Berlin are foreign, coming from mostly Asian, Arabian, and American countries... This "us vs. them", or more accurately "US vs. them" attitude needs to stop.

Except they're not going to change. You (i.e. us) are just going to lose. How many European students are enrolled in elite institutions in China, India, Middle East, etc, at the host country's expense, who will then take coveted positions at foreign firms in those countries? 30%, lol?

In the US, they created this backdoor "Opt" work visa (which they're desperately trying to expand) that allows hundreds of thousands of foreign students to stay in the US once studies are finished and compete for jobs. Oh, and they don't pay various retirement taxes, so companies get an immediate 15% incentive to hire them over American students.

Only white Europeans and Americans are told they must bend over backwards to allow other cultures and ethnicities to advance while the rest of the world takes advantage of our self-inflicted stupidity and laughs at us while they surge past us.

You've been indoctrinated by various interest groups, none of whom actually have your interests or those of your country in mind.

It looks like you've been using HN primarily for political battle. Can you please not do that? It's against the rules (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html) and it's the line across which we start banning accounts (https://hn.algolia.com/?query=primarily%20test%20by:dang&sor...), regardless of which politics they're battling for. This is because it destroys what HN is supposed to exist for, which is curious conversation on a wide range of topics.

No doubt this gets downvoted to oblivion lol. The simple question is... why does a country like China get to stay homogenous and barely educate foreigners, and yet they send all their best to get educated in the west and then most go back and implement the fruits of their knowledge in China. Then this empowers a CCP security/warfare apparatus that will eventually destroy the west.

The kumbaya people are so naive.

> In the US, they created this backdoor "Opt" work visa (which they're desperately trying to expand) that allows hundreds of thousands of foreign students to stay in the US once studies are finished and compete for jobs. Oh, and they don't pay various retirement taxes, so companies get an immediate 15% incentive to hire them over American students.

First, OPT is not a visa. Optional Practical Training participants are mostly F-1 visa holders. Per IRS rules[1], the social security tax exemption "does not apply to F-1,J-1,M-1, or Q-1/Q-2 nonimmigrants who become resident aliens." And per IRS rules [2], you are considered a resident aliens if you pass the Substantial Presence Test [3], which states, "31 days during the current year, and 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that." Now how many students can get an OPT job and still fail this test?

The US immigration policy is not perfect and has holes. But attracting foreign talents to stay and work in the US is the baby, not the bath water.

[1] https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/fore... [2] https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/dete... [3] https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/subs...

> Only white Europeans and Americans are told they must bend over backwards to allow other cultures and ethnicities to advance while the rest of the world takes advantage of our self-inflicted stupidity and laughs at us while they surge past us.

I can understand your argument if you say education in Europe should be paid for some people as residents of the country pay taxes. You don't have to be vitriolic to make that point.

> You (i.e. us) are just going to lose.

How? What is "their" end-game? At worst "they" cost us like 3,000 euro/semester in tuition, which is virtually nothing.

At best the people that came here stay, adding skilled labor to our workforce.

At the very least Germany gets a solid boost to foreign relations, established a foundation for international corporation in research, and educated a generation of people who have seen the other side of the pond, while remaining less ignorant ourselves. There's a reason Germany is diplomatically one of the best connected countries.

You can hardly buy a measly frigate for your navy for what this costs us, and I know which is more useful for enacting meaningful change.

Also, personally, I value the experience of interacting with students from other nationalities a lot.

> In the US [...]

And? This is not the US.

> You've been indoctrinated

Yeah, right.

As a British person, I'm very happy working for North American companies, but it's a bit of a shame that I have to do that to find interesting and reasonably paid work with pleasant conditions. I wish we could generate our own companies with the initiative and ambition of those in North American to do meaningful computer science work. Nobody seems to even be trying.

(Don't try to suggest ARM is an option - their pay is really uncompetitive.)

It's not just ARM, many European companies don't pay well. Especially for engineers and developers.

In Europe you have to be management to get payed anything substantial. Though most management is still doing the jobs which any engineer could combine with their work and probably do equally well or better.

> hough most management is still doing the jobs which any engineer could combine with their work and probably do equally well or better.

If engineers could do it better, why don't they?

Management won’t let you. They probably won’t even hire you in the first place.

Some great companies cough airbus cough won’t pay you or consider hiring you unless you have a degree from a prestigious place. And if you tell HR you are not interested in being a manager but stay an engineer they won’t even hire you. Most people in the company produce Word and PowerPoint documents, not code.

Since it's the person you would replace which decides your faith. So yes, it would be better, and most I know would probably like to, but won't be allowed in any way to "meddle with management business".

Because they like engineering?

If you won't volunteer to do a job then don't criticise those who do.

> many European companies don't pay well. Especially for engineers and developers.

You have to take into account the fact that in Europe the state takes a big chunk of your gross salary (probably around 50%) in form of social contributions and other taxes, to cover things like healthcare, unemployment, pension, welfare, parental leave and so on. In the US you have to cover these things yourself most of the time.

So while most people praise the European system they would like at the same time to earn as much as their US counterparts, which is unrealistic tbh. As the saying goes, "you can't have your cake and..."

I think you're misunderstanding - we mean 'many European companies don't pay as well as North American companies even when they are also employing you in Europe'. So that tax is the same and you can directly compare and it is egregious.

Yeah, misunderstood that.

That doesn't cover the difference. In the US the pay for a median software engineer is slightly above $100k. In the UK, Germany, and France it is half that and most likely less than half for the UK and France.

> Don't try to suggest ARM is an option - their pay is really uncompetitive.

Off-topic but: Is that so? For some reason I always thought they were on par with the American high-paying companies.

I'm probably exaggerating in my memory, but I think I recall seeing an internship offer from ARM that was the same daily rate as Oracle were offering hourly.

Why doesn't Europe simply... compete?

Buy tech instead of offering endless (paperwork intensive) subsidies. Harmonize markets so you can just sell everywhere without having to fund the local civil servant union by filling the new-and-special-snowflake paperwork for every country you want to sell to.

>Buy tech instead of offering endless (paperwork intensive) subsidies.

Which would be gov competition which in the current status quo of EU governance is a big nono. The US cares a bit less about that and it's companies got the clout, the money and keep buying out EU ones in new markets or existing ones. China obviously cares even less and will straight up do what you said.

What Europe needs is a lot of different changes, it needs to ramp up it's market unification and notably some protectionism to let it's local companies mature and prevent even mature ones from being Nokia'd or the like.

>Harmonize markets so you can just sell everywhere without having to fund the local civil servant union by filling the new-and-special-snowflake paperwork for every country you want to sell to.

That's something the EU is very slowly doing.

> That's something the EU is very slowly doing.

The slower they do it the bigger the gap will be!

Europe is pretty corrupt in this regard. What you suggest would have to be approved by the very same people that massively benefit from this fragmentation and endless debates on every topic where everybody roots only for themselves/their benefactor/their country.

Not going to happen, however sad it makes me as european. EU is good for quite a few things, but this ain't one of them.

Could you elaborate more on your “this is because Europe is corrupt” claim? I like to think European politics is not much more flawed than American politics, and would like to see such a claim backed up with some actual evidence.

I personally like to think Europe is very different from the US culturally, in that the countries themselves are much less aligned than the US states are. I would never consider corruption to be the cause of this, as much as it’s mostly about the egos of the individual countries and citizens.

Corruption has many faces, it doesn't have to pipe all the money straight to 'Ndrangheta bank accounts. Rooting for sub-optimal solutions (overpriced, subpar quality but company from given state) compared to best one is frequent. Rooting for choices that favor ie large agricultural producers say from France/Spain/Italy, or some multinational based in Netherland and forcing restrictions on all member states is common too. Hardly the best choice for regular citizens who just always foot the extra bill.

Heck, we have tons of legal lobbyists in Brusel, what do you think is their sole source of (very good) income?

On national level, the more you go to the east, the more corrupt the state themselves are, ie previous government of Slovakia stepped down exactly due to too close ties to Italian mafia (and a murder of journalist+girlfriend who investigated this). Why Italian mafia you may ask? Well to pipe all the money coming from EU dotations into 'friendly' companies that deliver little and take a lot. Classic laundering of dirty money, this time done by state itself. All eastern states within EU have some non-trivial level of this.

I wouldn't compare EU and US politics directly, both are corrupt in some aspect and not so much in others (ie US and its 'defensive' market used only very offensively, board members of those companies being former politicians and vice versa). Still better than 3rd world obviously, or places like former soviet republics (not sure if 2nd world countries is the proper term for those).

Historically, US has been a large homogeneous market, compared to Europe where there’s been more separation between French, German, Spanish, UK, markets. This really changes how the market works in Europe. You can simply make one product in the US and be successful marketing to 330 million people.

In Europe, however, you find There’s well established brands in each country. Perhaps only in the last 1-2 decades have brands like Easy jet been able to penetrate across Europe to a certain pan-Europe generation. Even there people want to do business in their own native languages and cultures quite often

> Europe dug it's own grave here by not funding its domestic tech sector enough and sleeping at the wheel while US and China were stealing their lunch from underneath their nose.

IMHO it's not a failure of the technology skills but rather a huge failure of the elites and management (and how management is educated in European universities) - everything was sourced out and lot's of small companies died due to mismanagement - also instead of nurturing the highly educated former east-bloc countries they were crushed by neoliberal politics to avoid having more competition for western european firms. So the whole of eastern europe became a factory hall for management in the west.

Not sure if the brightest minds end up at Huawei, because while the pay might be good, bright people might know that they need to expect different standards. Some do it for the money for a few years of course.

Often when we talk about tech, we talk about pop-tech. Aside from social media, chip giants like Intel or TSMC are the topic. The machines they use are build in the Netherlands by a company very few people know by name. Sure, the chip design is perhaps the essence, but I believe that US companies are just good at marketing, Chinas companies are good at scale.

Europe has many world market leader in the middle class. It is a misconception that you end up with a business titan in such a position.

It doesn't generate press, but I believe this is a far better foundation for an economy compared to having some superstars.

Although the US has certainly a lot of really good high tech. For example Texas Instruments has incredible tech just in their drawers, but they generate comparatively few headlines.

It's not about funding, it's about culture. In Europe, no good developer wants to work at a startup - they want to work in a large century-old semi-government company which provides long paid vacations, slow work pace and work-life balance. No one wants to fund a startup either. Almost no way to exit. And whole "industry disruption" thing is even inappropriate to talk about - you are supposed to go with the flow and play by the numerous formal and informal rules and uphold hierarchy.

I can promise you this doesn't hold across at least some of "Europe". Take where I work, London, for example. The stuff places like the BBC and GDS (Government Digital Service) are doing are pretty cool, but companies like Monzo, DeepMind and Revolut are the ones people talk about, plus the financial giants like JP Morgan and Bloomberg.

Monzo, Revolut vs Deepmind are not at all in the same ballpark of salary though. Deepmind pays 2x as much.

I've got an ex-colleague working at Revolut. 5 YoE, and he got hired for £140k. I'd be astounded if DeepMind were paying non-specialist, BSc developers £270k+. Monzo is behind, sure, but they still get a lot of attention, and don't pay badly. But my point is these companies are talked about way more than the "large century-old semi-government companies".

The reason is also pretty simple: Most german startups I've seen were some more or less (mostly less) good ideas from rich economics students - and they are looking for developers that are badly paid, get little benefits and have to work out all the issues - as a thank you, they get nothing in return if they are sold or die.

Additionally it's extremely hard to get funding - there are some programs like EXIST - www.exist.de but this is also shaped pretty much for economics students and offers little help for a technical startup.

It is commonly accepted that it is business people who build businesses, and technical people are replaceable and should be hired as cheaply and easy to dump as possible, and not approached seriously. Sometimes literally lowest bidder gets the job. Same thing in Russia. In almost every startup i saw here in Cy started by Russians, founders have no idea how to code. They mostly siphon off cash from someone rich and dumb enough. Naturally technical part doesn't matter all that much to them.

"founders have no idea how to code. They mostly siphon off cash from someone rich and dumb enough. "

This seem to be common model worldwide.

On what do you base this statement?

>> they want to work in a large century-old semi-government company

You'd hope "European top minds" would have different things on their mind than mere money. (have given up hope for our US friends)

Virtually none of the discoveries that fundamentally changed the world were _driven_ by thoughts about that mindnumbing thing. It really kills ingenuity and curiosity

There you are, dreaming of this awesome new thing that will be amazeballs while eating ramen in your shitty flat. Then someone comes and offers you a ton of money to go think about some other stuff for a few years. You figure you can always come back to thinking about the awesome thing, but a few years of eating decent food and living in decent housing would be nice.

This sound like you're living in a not-so-developed (part of the) country though? Sorry if that's the case, but from my experience living in Germany you can easily afford decent food (in fact there's little bad food, except the artificial American stuff) and housing while going to uni for free (you might even apply for BaFöG and stipends). This would especially apply to you as a bright person.

I wasn't really talking about me, more about a hypothetical researcher and the decision they might have to make when faced with this

Mhh fair enough, guess I'm just a fan of ideals in science.

But North American companies in my experience also give you more freedom and resources and scope to work on your ideas, and better work-life balance while you do it. It's not just the money.

> But North American companies in my experience also give you more freedom and resources and scope to work on your ideas, and better work-life balance while you do it

Any source on that? That's literally the first time i'm hearing anyone say North American companies provide better work-life balance than European ones. OECD average work week disagrees with you, i'm not aware of other sources on the subject.

> OECD average work week disagrees with you

Right but we're talking about a single specific industry that's not the norm.

My North American company gives me as much time off as I ask for, they shut down for two weeks over the new year, they don't care what hours I work, and they give extended sabbaticals after a few years. In the office they have incredible standard of food and drinks and the off-sites are awesome.

My friends at British companies have to be at their desk at 0830, get 28 days holiday and not an hour more, have to take a sad sandwich to work because nothing is provided, and the off-sites are depressing.

The biggest difference: North American companies are happy for you to work from home. This has given me thousands of hours back with my family, and saved me hundreds of thousands of pounds in housing costs. My friends at British companies all have to go into an office. (Pre-pandemic.)

If you're a supermarket shelf-stacker I'm sure work-life and benefits are better in the UK than in the US... but we're not talking about shelf-stackers we're talking about tech companies.

Anecdata. I work in France, and pre-pandemic everyone could work remotely, and we had full remote people as well. Lunches are sacred, and going to lunch with colleagues to a restaurant ( every day) for at least an hour is the norm, even if some people prefer to bring their own food and eat at the office.

I start and end work whenever i want ( i try to make the required 35 hours weekly but don't keep rigorous track).

I get 35 days paid vacation, can take sabaticals of up to a year, renewable for one more year, and if i start a business i can take a year off work ( salary and position are kept) to see if it works. There's paid maternal and paternal leave. I can't be fired tomorrow unless for a big error on my part. If i get called outside of office hours, i get paid extra (double extra on Sundays or holidays). ( That's labour law)

See why you can't make huge blatant overgeneralisations?

> See why you can't make huge blatant overgeneralisations?

I think you've (deliberately) overlooked where I clearly said it was one experience:

> in my experience ... My North American company ... My friends at British companies ...

If you don't want to hear people sharing their individual lived experiences what's the point in joining a discussion? Why are people like this on this forum?

Do you work for a FAANG? As the US companies I worked for in europe had none of those benefits so I think you're part of the top percentile of privileged tech workers, not the norm for US companies operating in EU.

> Do you work for a FAANG?

No I've never worked for a FAANG.

Ok. But your job is definitely an outlier in the European tech scene and not the norm.

Counterpoint, it's almost the reverse in my experience. I worked for two years for a medium-sized Seattle-based tech company in their London office, and the last 12 months in a British tech company. The American company had way more bureaucracy and rules around stuff than the UK company. The UK company paid way better, had a barista on-staff, much more up-to-date tech, and less work hours to boot.

The work-life balance of software engineers in North America is terrible compared to that in the UK.

40 hours is the normal maximum here. Weekends are clear. At least 4 weeks paid holiday that you must take (I get 6).

I've only just recently broken 6 figures in the UK and though I would have been there years ago in the US, there is no way I would trade in my free time for that extra cash.

> there is no way I would trade in my free time for that extra cash

I don’t know what to tell you apart from you’re operating under some myths about North American companies.

Hours, leave, on-call, compensation are all better at my North American company but working in the UK than what you’re boasting about in a European company.

Why work for a European company? I have more free time but better pay where I am.

They spoke about US companies in the US, which is understandably different.

Well, if you have to worry about money every month because you are living month to month, then yes money is important. This is the situation in many EU countries.

I used to work at a large US tech company known for making a lot of acquisitions. One time I was assisting with one and was having drinks with the VP coordinating a lot of this growth and he explained he would never acquire a French company because of the labor laws. Now, he was a German, so take that with a grain of salt :) However, the key point here is the same story we see repeated all the time: simple things such as labor laws protecting employees can backfire in unexpected ways.

I am not claiming I have the answer or the French laws are wrong, just presenting a data point. Nevertheless, this is HN, so I expect people how dumb I am and how I have no idea what I am talking about. Fire away.

How is that a backfire? Sounds like the employees were sufficiently protected from a company that clearly had no intention of following said law.

The company is a multi-billion dollar company that absolutely follows all employment laws. They just didn't want to deal with the French laws.

And yet Apple, Microsoft, SAP and Facebook have offices in Paris.

What's up with that then?

This shows that even giant US and German companies can work with French labor laws just fine otherwise they wouldn't be there.

So, to me, this whole current push in the west to drive down labor laws in the sake of "staying competitive" is just a big globalization scam on the working class and a backtrack of all the quality of life progress made from years of struggle by previous generations.

Good for France for not giving in!

What are the size of those offices? (I don't know the answer to this question).

Every multinational company of a sufficient size is going to have "an office" in a major developed country.

The question to me is whether or not that office is employing more than the minimum required for the company to sell products in that country. If your "office" is just local sales and support, some lawyers for local legal issues, etc, I don't think that's a strong case.

Do they do substantial R&D there? Are there new products that come out developed by "Microsoft Paris"? Etc.

So they didn't want to follow French law. Sounds like a bullet dodged for the French employees who are protected by those laws.

This doesn’t seem like a bad thing at all, allows the french company to further develop independently while still being locally owned... maybe bad for the owners but not necessarily for French society

It is a big handicap building a small company in tech knowing the largest company in the space which does a large number of acquisitions will probably not be interested in you despite how good your work is.

Depends if your goal is to sell ASAP. I know that in my part of Europe the government agencies that support small businesses with grants etc hate when they sell to foreign competitors as most likely outcome is IP transfer and breakup of a potential competitor. If these policies select for those unwilling to do this that’s fine as far as they’re concerned.

Maybe I'm misreading this, but isn't this a good thing?

'Small company avoids being taken over by globalcorp because their employee rights are too strong'?

I'm trying to think of other US-Euro takeovers but right now the only one coming to mind is Microsoft/Nokia... and that's not good story

While it's true that French labor laws are expensive and constraining, the same is true of German laws.

you can also do this argument to other way. american labour law is a joke, and outside of the 1% circles on HN, workers in the US have terrible working conditions for a western, developed nation.

also, a cultural thing I don't see talked about much on HN is that many Europeans are critical of capitalism and are far more class conscious then most Americans (from my personal experience).

Nokia, Siemens and Alcatel were trail-blazing European companies: they went toe-to-toe with Motorola and... I was going to say Nortel, but they were Canadian. Nokia (handset division) and Alcatel were bought-out by American companies (or merged). The EU let American money buy-out their crown jewels.

They were in serious decline by the time of the buyout.

I mostly agree, though to be honest several EU companies dug their own graves.

How long since you've heard about anything relevant on the market from "Big German electronics manufacturer" (wink)? And from "Big Dutch electronics manufacturer" (though this one seems to be still around in some areas)?

And if Huawei pays good salaries then other companies better get on with it, right? Competition is competition. Only management can give the direction, the focus and the urgency needed and the European companies were awful at it.

"Competition is competition."

Not if you have a state-backed cultish operation leveraging hyper nationalism and breaking all of the rules.

You can't compete with an entity that has unlimited cash, a massive spy apparatus behind it, access to financing from state owned banks that work with the central bank, where state banks print money to finance your customers, and completely asymmetric trade rules working in it's favour.

"Don't worry, we can make that for 1/5th the cost that you do, thanks to our labour laws back home (!) and the fact our IP appeared magically on our desks. And you don't even need to pay that money now - pay it later - our friendly CCP bank back home will give you unlimited credit! I might disagree with what I am telling you and everything bout it, but I've been trained since youth to store those notions deep inside and to never really speak the truth".

> Not if you have a state-backed cultish operation leveraging hyper nationalism and breaking all of the rules.

OK, but enough about Apple.

Apple is owned or controlled by the US Government?

Apple has the JP Morgan handing out cheap loans backed by the Fed to it's customers?

Apple works in perfect sync with the US Government and execs 'disappear' when they don't?

What happened when Jack Ma dared to disagree with Xi?

ASML, a Dutch semiconductor company, is a titan in the fab business. TSMC might be the world leader is chip fabrication, but the kit that they use is Dutch-sourced.

ASML gets mentioned so often as counter example to EU's downfall in tech that all it does it prove the point.

One drop of water doesn't mean it's raining.

> One drop of water doesn't mean it's raining.

The German Mittelstand is famous for their "hidden champions" - in fact, 48% of small-ish "world market leaders" are German, while only 28 of the big "Top 500" are (per https://www.bbc.com/news/business-40796571).

The problems with our Mittelstand are a) modern IT technologies (the amount of Mittelstand companies operating on fax-ed POs or with extremely shoddy IT setups is... mind blowing) and b) finding new and competent staff, given that many young people move to cities because the rural areas are unliveable.

TBH, as a SW engineer who used to work in family owned Mittelstand companies, those places are the worst you can choose to work in and no wonder they can't find employees willing to work for them anymore. Good riddance!

We just got a new 7T MRI from “Big German Electronics Manufacturer”. The runner-up option was from Big Dutch manufacturer.

That's great, but the problem is Apple makes x1000 more money selling phones than Siemens and Philips do selling MRI machines.

It's much closer than you'd think.

Apple's 2020 revenue was ~$US 250B; Siemen's 2019 revenue was ~$US $100B.

That’s Siemens’ global revenue including things like battleships and wind turbine farms.

...and Apple's from music, apps, books, and PCs.

My point is that these companies, while not as massively dominant as Apple, are still very relevant in their own markets. It's just that everyone wants a phone, while fewer people are on the hunt for heavy equipment.

The part which I should have made more explicit is “Big American electric conglomerate” also sells MRI stuff, but my impression is that it’s not often one of the front runners, so it’s not as though European companies just can’t compete.....

GE makes 7T MRI too and it's the only one cleared for clinical use in the US as far as I know: https://www.medgadget.com/2020/11/fda-clears-most-powerful-c...

Philips has been actively retreating from the consumer market for years, focussing on the medical market.

Hue is still around

Philips the company now only operates in the medical market, the lighting division is a spin-off that still uses the Philips brand:

> In 2018, the independent Philips Lighting N.V. was renamed Signify N.V. However, it continues to produce and market Philips-branded products such as Philips Hue color-changing LED light bulbs

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philips

Hue is not a multi-billion industry though, there's no ridiculous growth or profit margins, and it's not (read: no longer) a unique product, with companies like ikea jumping on the same bandwagon.

And they also do electric tooth brushes and air filters (or what the name is), both of which are possibly the best on market.

> Europe dug its own grave here by not funding its domestic tech sector enough

Is the argument that (one of):

- the EU budget should be expanded to directly subsidise tech companies, or take equity ownership in companies, using taxpayer money

- individual EU companies should do the same sort of state capitalism, using taxpayer money, and probably violating EU rules on state aid

- EU investment funds should deliberately select less profitable investments for nationalist reasons

- the small group of hyper-wealthy globalised investors such as Softbank (Japan) that currently hand out ridiculous sums to SV companies should hand them out to EU companies instead, because .. reasons

I have very ambivalent views about this myself, but if you want EU state capitalism to compete with Chinese state capitalism then please say so and we can gang up on the doctrinaire free market lot.

The UK is very odd sometimes; I have a half-SV-salary and it puts me in the 97%ile of UK pay. The only people who seem to be well paid are footballers and company directors, yet London house prices are set by the marginal oligarch.

And finance people. Like, when I worked for a FAANG we found it hard to get senior people as the company wouldn't benchmark against finance companies, thus no-one would work for them.

Additionally, the late hours necessary in a satellite office don't map well to senior+ people, as they will often have families and children.

Hah, my first job out of uni had this problem.

We were the UK office of a medium-sized Seattle-headquartered tech company. One of our department heads got a job at a fintech not long after I left, and gradually poached the rest of his team. Despite the salary raise being like 70%, the company refused to benchmark against them, because the were Central London, and we were Outer London.

I ended up jumping ship a couple of years later to that fintech, that 70% raise was lovely.

Can you elaborate on "Europe dug it's own grave here"?

Look at what EU "tech" companies pay vs what FAANG/Huawei pays.

A friend finished his PhD in ML and ended up taking a job at a FAANG in the EU as the tech companies from Germany and France were only willing to pay half of that.

You can't be at the top if you treat your SW devs and researchers as an IT cost center.

I think you can replace EU with "the rest of the world". In Asia, we are also jealous of Silicon Valley.

Obligatory article: https://alexdanco.com/2021/01/11/why-the-canadian-tech-scene...

Well I’m sure it’s possible to attract really good folks at low salaries even in SEA/Japan/SK/Taiwan/India/etc. if folks are compensated with significant ownership stakes instead.

It’s about what the business owners are willing to do.

Why doesn't Canada simply... compete?

Honestly, bragging your engineers are worth 50K less while pitching for HQ2 won't stop their brain drain.

To be fair funding options for US companies compared to EU ones is absurd. US tech is swimming in money compared to EU tech.

which is what the thread is about - US tech is swimming in money partly because the US supported their tech industry to the point where it became a big monster swimming in money, at which point the brains in EU drain off to the money oceans of the US.

I wonder how much of the easy access to credit in the US is simply the strength of the dollar - we keep printing more $$ but the dollar doesn't devalue as much. Add to the fact that our poor interest rates on savings accounts makes private equity investments the only means to increase wealth.

The joys of being a reserve currency.

EU investors are way too conservative.

I did think of working for a FAANG, but they don't really do much in my corner of Europe (there's a group working on Docs and similar in Germany but I don't want to move to Germany), and they are scary in that they seem to aim for the university high-achievers. I don't want to have to learn leetcode for a job interview, knowing full well that leetcode is not the day job there either.

Plus I like being (or ok, feeling) productive, instead of spending 99% of my time on politics, analysis and waiting for small code changes.

You seem to have looked at Google specifically (mention of Docs). Google has substantial engineering presence in several european countries. Just a few cities/countries off the top of my head in no specific order: Munich, Zürich, London, Dublin, Warsaw. There's others, IIRC a bit on Stockholm for example, but I think those I named after among the larger presences. Anyway. Not just Germany.

There's also SRE, which has a slightly different twang on how we spend our time and then interview makeup.

For what it's worth, I'm not a computer science grad at all and I'm doing just fine at Google. Got hired as a senior manager, though, so YMMV.

Not trying to convince you of anything, just trying to be helpful. :)

Out of curiosity what education/career path did you follow to get to your current position?

They pay worse than even non-FAANG tech companies in Australia too

Oh wow, I didn't realize there's such a huge discrepancy in salary.

Yup. The average salary for a junior (e.g. with 1 to 3 years experienced) developer is around 45-50k Euro gross. You can get very exceptional and very experienced engineers for 90-100k Euro gross annually.

Why not simply come to SV?

It's not that easy.

Even if you already work for a US company, and that company is willing to sponsor you, and you win the visa lottery, it can take years to move to the US, and many years after that to get a green card. And at any point something could go wrong, your company screws up paperwork or something, and you get sent back to the start.

Lots of talented EU Engineers do it.

Maybe some EU countries should look into getting a better deals for their citizen trying to go abroad.

At a macro level, sure. At a personal level, it's not easy. As far as I know, only Mexico, Canada and Australia have preferred access to US visas for their citizens (though I'm hoping the UK will join them during trade deal negotiations).

It's not the 19th century, you can't just hop on a boat and get your papers at the port.

because leaving behind the people and community around me is not worth the money and work/life balance?

also, the US has a political and social problem which make it a place I would not want to live.

there's more to a job than the salary.

Yes, there is more than just the salary. Except that, in Europe, most (if not all) forms of "equity" are proportional: your title, your salary, your ability to decide, etc.

It becomes an equivalence:

* Since you decide nothing, therefore your salary is low.

* Since your salary is low, you therefore decide nothing.

This stems fundamentally from a (backward?) European strict view of companies, regardless of how hierarchical/flat their structure may be. And that view is that the corporate environment is split into two groups:

* Managers: they decide;

* Workers: they do work.

This split may have made sense in the Industrial Revolution era but it has shown it's age in this day and age. And yet the model (and the perception, and the values) persist.

If you, as a knowledge worker, ever make the mistake of "getting down and get things done" you will have chosen your side.

> Except that, in Europe, most (if not all) forms of "equity" are proportional: your title, your salary, your ability to decide, etc.

It's funny that you completely missed the point ( i think the other person is making). What about time off? Pension? Parental leave? Medical costs? Way of life ( as in, work stops at 6pm or 7pm or whatever, and then it's your free time; weekends are usually off limits; you don't have to own a car and waste hours in traffic depending on where you live, etc.)

Furthermore, the rest of what you said is painting hundreds of thousands of business across more than 30 countries with the same brush. I work in a European company, and it's nothing like that. You shouldn't generalise like that.

> Pension? Parental leave? Medical costs?

All of the above are codified in law.

Whenever a (large) company has their own internal programs (for higher pension, additional coverage) the values are proportional to your income.

This "makes sense" given the separation of concerns: one dept appraises your performance and indicates salary adjustments. Another dept is responsible for providing additional benefits/perks to all employees (based on their salaries). Each dept gets to focus on their core competence.

> What about time off?

Much more flexibility (in terms of work schedule, work load, commitment) is afforded to those above than those whose work is depended on. Whenever managers travel around the world for worldwide management conferences in e.g. Thailand they can spend their vacation days there (i.e. the company is flexible with the bookings).

This "makes sense" because it is far easier to be flexible towards those whose work is on the move and abstract, as opposed to work done exclusively in a fixed location (eg factory worker). Knowledge workers are in a weird spot (because their work is super abstract but done from a cubicle/home) but have been lumped into the latter category because "they aren't managers".

> I work in a European company

Me too. I have (physically) worked in DE, PL, PT. And have worked for even more countries -- and I stand by my generalization. The exception to the rule will be small companies, but organizational culture in those will always be different due to the lack of size.

Moreover, the bigger the company the more extreme that equivalence is.

Now onto specifics that I have observed over my 20+ years:

> Way of life

Oh yes, I love being micro-managed by a manager with PhD with 2 years of "work" experience.

> weekends are usually off limits

Except when managers make commitments without bothering to check what the actual effort is (because it was in their personal interest to say yes to things), ultimately putting you into a lovely position. Say no and be punished during your appraisal, say yes and work weekends.

> you don't have to own a car and waste hours in traffic depending on where you live

Managers received that perk long before knowledge workers did.

> What about time off? Pension? Parental leave? Medical costs?

For top engineers, that's not really a concern in America.

which is not the argument I think is important. I want healthcare for those around me aswell! why is this healthcare not an option for those in society who are less able to work or are good at jobs which are not engineering/high paying?

art and education is a good example of this. without either, a society is reduced to nothing. why do these not deserve proper healthcare? because the free market has decided they are not worth it?

I'm alright, Jack.

But this goes hand in hand. If the salary is very high, management will try not to waste your potential. If low they might not care.

An important mission or great workplace culture don’t pay for mortgage.

But even if you accept the paycut, it's not like the workplace culture is great: https://www.npr.org/2019/12/20/790101370/french-telecom-comp...

One case at a shitty former-public-becoming-private company. Not really applicable everywhere.

Right - I also want my work to be interesting and impactful, my colleagues to be motivated and talented, to get generous time off, etc... and guess what even in Europe the North American companies do better at all these aspects as well!

There is, but it's the main consideration to be honest...

All of the downvotes are saying a lot about HN, lol.

But these folks have jobs in the EU, often close to home, and pay their taxes where they live -- isn't that the point of the government spending?

Same in the US (Santa Clara CA, Plano TX, and Bridgetwater NJ) They are currently moving their US R&D to their Canada research centre due to sanctions.

All international companies have R&D all around the world.

ps. It's not stealing when you do R&D in foreign country.

I didn't know this, it is quite sad in fact if true. Do you have some more info?

In almost every EU tech hub you will find a Huawei lab and usually a stone throw way from their major western competition (Nokia, Ericsson, ARM, Imagination) and in Paris, Apple hires cryptographers from ANSSI, the French National Cybersecurity Agency (France's NSA) to work on their DRM and Apple Pay.

Why would this be sad? Comparative advantages are useful.

If they are doing something we don't like, we have to address that. (Eg. child labor, unsafe work conditions, carbon tariff if they don't have a carbon tax.) In itself there's absolutely no problem with having an R&D hub in the EU for a US or Chinese company.

Why is it sad? Global market at work.

> One ex-employee says there is effectively a glass ceiling for European workers. „When you walk through the corridors, it is very obvious that 99.9 per cent of the management is Chinese.“

FWIW, this is the case in American companies in Europe too. People with US roots progress up the organisation faster, and nearly all the top spots are occupied by people with an american accent...

It's the same case with big German companies (Siemens, Bosch, BMW, Porsche, etc.). Senior management positions are only awarded to ethnic Germans so it's quite ironic to hear them complain when they get the same treatment at foreign companies.

This mentality is somewhat changing, but very slowly and white westerns are still prioritized. You won't see any Indians run German auto companies any time soon like you see them running major US tech companies.

I can pick four DAX companies with non-German CEOs

Daimler... Ola is Swedish Adidas... Kasper is Danish Beiersdorf... Stefan is Belgian Linde... Aldo is Italian

I think you're drawing conclusions where there are none to be drawn

> This mentality is somewhat changing, but very slowly and white westerns are still prioritized.

True, I used to work in Germany and all my managers/bosses were white german males.

Two exception 1 from USA and another from balkans.

To lead in Germany you have to know German - the people who don't will have problems (Cryan did at DB, as did Jennifer Morgan at SAP). And there are few foreign managers in these companies willing to learn German to a good enough standard - unlike in English or American companies.

> Siemens, Bosch, BMW, Porsche

Let's see.

Siemens USA: CEO Barbara Humpton, not German.

Bosch USA: Mike Mansuetti, not German.

BMW USA: President Bernhard Kuhnt (sounds German), but top leadership team includes lots of Non-Germans: Shaun Bugbee, Lisa Errion Saums, Adam Sykes, Howard S. Harris, Adam McNeill, Michael Peyton, Trudy Hardy

Porsche USA: CEO Kjell Gruner (German), but top leadership includes mostly names that are not German: Joe Lawrence, Thierry Kartochian, George Feygin, Angus Fitton, Glenn Garde, Pedro Mota, Scott Codute, Trevor Arthur, John Cappella.

I guess you either don't know or you do know but spread misinformation on purpose.

Siemens CEO: Joe Kaeser

Bosch CEO: Volkmar Denner

BMW CEO: Harald Krueger

Porsche CEO: Oliver Blume

All German. I always thought of the CEOs of foreign branches were usually more "marketing" CEOs than actual run the core business CEOs. They are the face for the regional dealers and suppliers to meet in the respective regions.

Right, but that's not the point of either the article nor the comment that ChuckNorris89 replied to, the article is about a Chinese company in Europe/Germany, and the comment was about US companies in Europe. The only equivalent then is German companies in the US.

It's expected to have leadership in the domestic branch of any large corporation to be mostly from that country: few Americans emigrate to Germany for work, expecting the ~100k US-citizens in Germany to contain the CEOs of major companies among ~80m people (mostly German) seems ridiculous just looking at statistics.

He was talking about places in Germany.

Yeah all white. No Asians.

The easiest way to harvest downvotes: expose a comforting lie people want to believe. God, HN really has become reddit.

By Mexican law, the companies should share a part of profit with employees. In the Mexican Huawei all the upper management is Chinese and are employed by a different company than the rest. Guess which company has profit and shares with its employess?

I don’t have a stake in this argument here.

But, how do you feel about American or European companies, where their senior management are all white men?

And where Asian-American men, of say Chinese descent, feel that they will never be allowed into the higher ranks of upper management.

I think these folks also feel marginalized, and are restricted by glass ceilings too.

Some of the more resourceful ones, strike out on their own, and start their own companies. But those are few and far in between.

This can partly be self-selection. I knew someone who chose to work at Huawei because they were learning Chinese and considered moving to China. Someone like that is a lot more likely to want to work for Huawei than someone who intends to stay right where they are and learn no Chinese.

> European employees rarely find out what is really going on in the company during the day at work, says a former German employee. However, Chinese colleagues occasionally ask in the evening if they want to have dinner together. „After a few beers, you find out what is going on in the company and what is not.“ Yet many Western employees did not want to get involved and preferred to go home.

That sounds pretty familiar to me from ordinary very large US companies, no? Maybe German companies are less dysfuntional.

In the UK the post-work beers is where you find out the juicy stuff. Hell, I got my last job thanks to a chat in a beer garden.

As I think about it more, I'm really kind of astounded this is being made as an accusation about Huawei specifically being nefarious.

Pretty much in line with how late 20th century cyberpunk dystopia was painting the spirit of the supranational Corp. Just with a bit of a colonialist element that wasn't much in the focus of those writers. But not ruled out either:

In those dystopias the "supranational" was rarely meant to imply some cosmopolitan post-national qualities, just lack of being bound by local laws. A "Chinese West India Company" under an unspecified amount of CCP influence would fit right in.

I am pre-disposed to hate Huawei, but I didn’t find the article compelling. Few of the sources were named with little justification for the anonymity. If they are ex-employee, what is the fear? Even about a court case, Huawei denies they were sued, yet the article doesn’t address whether court records dispute that.

As for the terrible working conditions, the article takes an absurdly long time to make a few tepid points. Chinese expats don’t mingle with the locals. They are rotated if they do develop ties with the local population.

The articles asserts that employees are handcuffed by payment in shares. When leaving the company, they must sell their shares. The articles says this robs them of their retirement. How? Must they be sold at a loss? When my employer matched my retirement contributions in shares, I was pissed that I couldn’t sell until I quit.

Again, I would love to hate Huawei, but this article isn’t doing it for me.

> They are rotated if they do develop ties with the local population.

That's the killer for me. That's illegal.

It's only illegal when it's not the government doing it.

Rotating duty to prevent sympathizing with the locals is standard procedure for law enforcement agencies above the municipal level.

In the US State Department I'm not sure if it's explicitly given as official justification, but it's widely understood as the justification for the entire way things are organized.

Is it illegal when it's not the government doing it though? In what country, what laws make it illegal?

> In what country, what laws make it illegal?

I'm pretty sure it's not illegal in my country but I dunno about the person I was responding to. I was just pointing out that it's SOP in some industries.

What law is this breaking?

In Germany there is no at-will employment.

Employers need a reason to fire employees.

This prevents them from reaching into people's private lives, like Huawei is doing here.

Does "rotated" mean fired? I think they are talking about Chinese nationals reassigned back to China or other non-German countries, right? it might be illegal in Germany, Germany does have very strong labor protections! It's still not clear to me what law would make it illegal.

You have a point. I am not sure about the legal situation actually when it comes to rotations.

But if your employer justifies any negative action towards you with "the person made friends in their private life", you can probably sue for harassment/bullying.

> I think they are talking about Chinese nationals reassigned back to China or other non-German countrie

This almost certainly doesn't matter.

If someone is working, full time, in the german office, for years, then they are almost certainly covered by german labor laws, even if they are a chinese national.

Right. It's just not clear to me that transfering someone back to the home office (or another international office) would be a violation of German laws against termination without cause, as GP suggested. Cause... it doesn't seem like termination? But maybe? It doesn't seem obvious. I'm just not sure we're all talking about the same thing.

Or maybe other offices in Germany

Sure it’s illegal, but meh. Quit or sue.

As an ex-Cisco employee it is easy for me to hate Huawei, no need for an article. :)

But seriously... Disrespecting the local culture as an expat has nothing but bad effects on the organization in the long term. Huawei will pay a price for this, in the long term.

I worked at Huawei as intern 2 years ago. Honestly, they seemed like just any other tech company- chill, interesting work with nice people. They even had a month where they doubled everyone's salaries randomly- as a thank you for working hard.

At the same time I did see the "shadow government" but would like to clarify that it seemed to me to progress beyond a team leader you had to be fluent in mandarin, not necessariy be Chinese. Which makes sense considering that yes, upper managements English is usually poor.

> They tell of a technology company that seems to see its employees first and foremost as raw materials from which it wants to forge its own success.

How unlike any other company I know.

Huawei by virtue of being Chinese is definitely sexist against men letting women retire 5 years earlier.

They are also clearly ageist as they make sure some employees earn way too much so that they retire early in their 40s. From the article:

“The retirement age in China is 60 for men and 55 for women. At Huawei, however, according to our sources, it is common to end one’s career already in one’s mid-40s. When long-serving Chinese managers reach this age, they often cash out the value of their company shares and effectively retire.”


It is great to see the funders of this journalism are against this ageism in tech and include the likes of the McArthur foundation and Soros affiliates.

Great that the article highlighted some potential management glass ceilings for Europeans in the Chinese company. The Chinese should learn from the lack of glass ceilings to non-Europeans in European companies. Or how egalitarian and meritocratic they are in hiring and don’t even care about formal diplomas or your ethnic background.

It baffles me why any (western) European would move to the US and leave behind such great meritocratic European tech companies.

Sounds like IBM in the glory days of mainframes. Non-US operations were controlled by American IBM employees. No country outside the US made enough parts to make a full computer. IBM employees used to say the initials stood for "I've Been Moved".

For a great documentary on the clash between American work culture and Chinese work culture, I recommend the 2019 documentary "American Factory".

It's "fashionable" to hit Huawei and China, but more broadly this is East Asian culture. In many Japanese and Korean companies the reality is quite similar to what is described in this article (which is quite lopsided).

As China continues to open to the world, and Chinese go study abroad, I think that Chinese companies will slowly become more mindful of these issues.

I generally agree, but Japan generally has a management culture where age above all else traditionally determines seniority.

The forced retirement thing described in the article is nearly identical though.

Yes. At Samsung, you see many of the same things: militaristic culture, long work hours, senior execs in overseas branches almost all Korean, important information passed on during company dinners, people switching to Korean during meetings and in emails due to poor English skills, glass ceiling for non- Koreans, people not promoted to exec levels retiring at 50 due to "up-or-out" culture.

OK, it's about coyotes, not wolves, and finacial innovation and organizations, not tech/business infiltrations, but:

Too Clever By Half https://www.epsilontheory.com/too-clever-by-half/

I visited huawei engineering offices in shenzhen about ten years ago for some due diligence work and it was hilarious to what length they went to protect their ip. They didn’t even have inter-building network not to mention internet anywhere on the premises

> They tell of a technology company that seems to see its employees first and foremost as raw materials from which it wants to forge its own success.

Oh no, just like most of the companies out there. I get it, Huawei might not be an ideal workplace. But the article is riding the China hate train.

The only thing of concern is their treatment of 50+ year old employees. Everything else seems in line with how I understand Chinese companies to behave towards their employees.

I implore everyone to read the article. It is well documented and quite shocking.

I have and you're right.

Not sure why these EU/Germans want to work there? Why not leave this job?

I find it disturbing that the focus of the article is on the wolf culture of Huawei, and the discussion here ignores that and veers off into nonsense about Apple. I've worked with former Americans who worked for Huawei here in the US, they confirm this behavior.

Huawei also filed patents around facial identification of Uyghurs, who are of course being held in concentration camps.

But go ahead talk about R&D investment in Europe and ignore the behavior of the firm.

Don’t American companies have facial recognition software to identify brown people, or black people, or Asian people?

I’ve been seeing this lately. But I fail to see why China or Huawei is getting hit by it.

Unless it’s just blind hatred by the HNers here about anything and everything China related.

I’m sure the FBI is employing facial recognition software that delineates between black vs. white people too.

> Huawei also filed patents around facial identification of Uyghurs, who are of course being held in concentration camps.

Let’s not forget mass sterilization of women in those camps which is a form of genocide.


Out of interest, have you worked in Chinese companies before, or just doing racial judgement?

People who work at Chinese companies such as TikTok speak about how differently they are treated if they are not Chinese, you can even see this all over Blind.

You can judge a culture without looking at their race.

I worked for Huawei in Canada for a bit less than a year before I left, because my boss insisted on assigning me work I didn't believe I could deliver on.

Of course I was only there for a short time, so I could be mistaken, but I did note that 75% of the employees in the lab (in Canada) were Chinese, as were seven of the eight first-level managers. That said, I never felt badly treated because of my ethnicity, and I never saw anyone else treated badly either. While it is possible things could have ended up this way for innocuous reasons, I would bet against it. I'm guessing some informal "good fit" discrimination is going on.

There is also an awful lot of Chinese spoken at the company. They try to run their foreign operations in English, and I have to give them credit for putting some real effort into it. But given the distribution of their staff in Canada and even more so over in China, in practice things switch over to Chinese quite frequently. It makes sense that they do this, since some of the engineers in China struggle to communicate in English, but when it happens the non-Chinese are excluded. And it's hard to object when one is the only blue-eye among a dozen Chinese.

Given what I saw, I would advise any non-Chinese engineer considering taking a job at Huawei to consider alternatives carefully, and absolutely not take the job if they do not speak Chinese and do not plan to learn it.

Judging a company by its national ties and policies is not racial

9-9-6 schedule, "brainwashing" training, public humiliation for mistakes, automatic termination at age 50, penalties for integrating with EU culture. This isn't employment, it's slavery.

Are we sure it's not actually a type of military endeavour?

Or is this just culturally how workers are generally treated in China?

Is there any hope for worker rights in China?

Has there actually been some conscious decision to treat industry as a type of warfare? After all, the lack of manufacturing competitiveness in the United States is actually considered by some to be a security issue.

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