The company began selling cheap telephone exchanges in rural China in the 1980s. The story of its growth, with annual sales exceeding $ 100 billion, is a result of naked ambitions, government support and questionable business tactics.
Huawei is now fighting a US campaign to shut down Chinese company's equipment, the next generation of wireless networks known as 5G. Ultra-fast 5G networks are used to connect everything from mobile phones to self-driving cars.
When the story is over, Huawei will fight hard to protect his business around the world.
Hungry as the Wolf
Ren Zhengfei, a former Chinese Army engineer, was founded Huawei in 1987 and has been its CEO since 1
The CEO often talks about "wolf spirit" and has been in the past. In the past, colleagues were told they were "shameless" to secure their business, such as "The Huawei Story," a book about the company co-authored by Tian Tao , Tao is a member of the Huawei International Advisory Council, an organization affiliated with the company, and works at Zhejiang University in East China.
It is expected that Huawei's staff will work the bloodthirsty character of wolves, fearlessness, resilience to harsh conditions, and the ability to mimic a team.
Huawei began selling products from other companies, but eventually decided to develop its own technology and put a lot of money and people into the effort.
According to "The Huawei Story," the company has equipped a large industrial building with work spaces and a kitchen. Beds were set up on the walls and mattresses placed on the floors. The employees worked for hours, slept and ate locally.
The tireless work paid off. Within a year, Huawei had built its own telephone switching system.
Huawei's early products were cheap and often collapsed. With attentive customer service, the company has made a name for itself and quickly put the equipment back into operation.
In the following decades, Huawei continued to improve its products and introduce new ones, such as smartphones. The company expanded internationally and sent executives to developing markets in Africa, South America and Asia.
Employees were given generous financial incentives – those who exceeded or surpassed their goals were well compensated for their efforts, including some who had previously worked for the company.
A former project director, working in several emerging markets in the late 2000s and mid-2010s, told CNN Business that his bonuses and annual company dividends far exceeded his base salary. This is an effective way to attract top talent, because China's other technology companies would not have that much incentive, he said. Huawei recruited him from another Chinese telecommunications company, trained him briefly in Shenzhen, and sent him abroad.
"Money motivation is the only thing that works," he said. We are called wolves, we need meat, we need money. "He asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by Huawei.
Employees were expected to hold their cell phones 24 hours a day. When customers called problems at midnight, engineers were immediately deployed, according to the former project manager.
He said the relentless schedule could burn people. After nearly a decade at the company, he left because he was exhausted and seldom saw his family.
Huawei said that employees were known to work long hours because when they grow, they are rewarded enormously.
Support from Beijing
The name Huawei means something like "China can".
ZTE is state. controlled and publicly traded, while Huawei is a private company owned by its employees. However, critics say that Huawei has wrongly benefited from the government's generous support, said Philippe Le Corre, senior associate at Harvard Kennedy School and co-author of "China's Offensive in Europe."
"There is only one reason why Huawei is so powerful because they received loans without interest from [Chinese state banks] and that helped them to penetrate the European markets," he said.
Asked about Le Corres claims, Huawei spokesman Glenn Schloss said the company had "made financing transparent".
"There were some misunderstandings about funding from state financial institutions, which led to inflation in the role that Huawei played for growth," he said.
"This funding will normally be provided to governments or network operators who engage in procurement or other activities to secure suppliers, including Huawei," he added.
In fact, other global companies are benefiting from government investment or export-import financing on favorable terms. However, experts say that China is simply much more generous.
Huawei said 35 global projects had opened up the available credit lines between 2005 and 2011, with about $ 3 billion actually expanding.
"Huawei's worldwide sales during this period totaled more than $ 145 billion. Lines were not significant," said Schloss.
Osvaldo Coelho, a telecommunications veteran who previously worked for Huawei as a project manager in Mauritius and South Africa says Beijing's support is key to the company's success.
"If you have a large market and have the support of a powerful government that is mighty like the Chinese Communist Party, you will naturally grow," he said. "This is not a startup in any garage."
Corporate Growth Violations
Like other global tech companies, Huawei has taken an aggressive approach to winning international business, even if this sometimes meant breaking the rules.
In 2012, an Algerian court found that Huawei and ZTE executives were convicted of bribery and sentenced them to ten years in prison.
"Huawei is committed to strict compliance with all laws and regulations and to the highest standards of business ethics, and this commitment is integrated into our Code of Conduct, which sets out the policies and practices our employees must adhere to. We have no tolerance for violations, "the company said in a statement.
The US Department of Justice denies this claim.
Huawei said at the time it was "disappointed" by the US lawsuit to bring suit. "The company denies that it or its subsidiary or subsidiary one of the allegations of US law alleged in individual indictments, "states a statement limited to Huawei.
But Coelho says that Huawei is ready to do anything important to secure the business.
"When you're hungry, you can do a lot of things, you can get really dirty," he said. "They do in the extreme what [others] did in their hay times."
Huawei has employees in "very fast-growing markets that do business with the rest of the world, we have 180,000 employees, we have strict compliance guidelines, but things happen," said Schloss.
"And if so, we discipline or punish employees and work with local authorities," he added.