Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on September 30, 2009
On the eve of China’s big 60th-anniversary bash, the country’s top tech company has another reason to celebrate. Huawei Technologies announced late this afternoon that it has hired Matt Bross, the former chief technology officer at BT (formerly known as British Telecom), as its new CTO. “Bross will focus on identifying global telecommunications industry trends that will guide Huawei’s continuous customer-centric innovation of products and solutions,” the company said in a statement. “He will also support the company’s efforts in delivering the latest products and solutions for North American customers.”
That last part seems to be the key to this move. Huawei has been aggressive in its overseas expansion and has done well in the developing world as well as Europe. But Huawei has not managed to make much of a dent yet in the U.S. Last year its attempt to team up with Bain Capital to buy control of 3Com flopped in the face of opposition from lawmakers concerned about the security implications of a Chinese company gaining a foothold in the country. Huawei execs probably figure the addition of Bross, who served for five years as the CTO for BT and who has been called a “visionary in the media and telecommunications industries” will help reassure skeptical Americans that they have no reason to fear the Chinese company. (Huawei’s PR agency said Bross wasn’t available for comment.)
It will be interesting to see how Bross manages to integrate into Huawei. The only other Chinese tech company I can think of that has tried to mix high-powered Western execs with Chinese counterparts is Lenovo, which brought in Bill Amelio from Dell as CEO in 2005. That didn’t work out so well: By early this year, Amelio was gone.