A thousand HTC engineers write an angry letter to Peter Chou. 60% R&D slash secret is out, staff gets restless
About a year ago, just as HTC troubles were getting into a full swing, I noticed a very strange blip in one of their quarterly reports.
Somehow, between Q3 and Q4 2011, HTC managed to slash their R&D costs by 60% (?!).
Without announcing the massive layoffs.
Given that most of the expenses in R&D come from the salaries of people actually doing research and development, I always wondered – how the (F&^%k) heck did they do that?
Now, I think I know how.
There must have been some staff firings there. But most of the rest came by slashing overtime and (maybe) salaries from current R&D staff. Which were left to fill in and made to work harder and more in some sort of “survival program” to keep HTC going.
But engineers who created those devices are already getting restless about doing much more, and getting paid less. According to Taiwanese media, a thousand or more of them recently sent and open letter to HTC CEO Peter Chou, complaining for:
“… requiring more than a thousand engineers to work 12 hour days according to “responsibility system” without any overtime compensation, for more than a year… which means 1000+ hours of uncompensated overtime per person per year – is extremely unreasonable…”
Well, my Google Chinese was off somewhat.
In comments Liaw Kim Poh •says it wasn’t 1000 guys, it was just 1 guy. But…. he asked … how the fff…. long would we have to work these 12hr shifts without overtime (talking about 5000 engineers who had to do that)
And, frankly, I’m not sure which is better. 1K guys speaking out, or 5K sending a representative…
HTC says it complied with all the Taiwan’s labor laws. And it’s cool. I also understand that when, suddenly, you go from meteoric growth to unexpected decline you have to make some sacrifices. And HTC’s approach – asking all of engineers to share the pain in transition, instead of sacking half of them right then, was a very smart and good thing to do.
My only problem is, that in this market, good smartphone engineers always have options. And, from what I’ve read, most of them (except those who leaked that memo), are still very loyal to HTC, just frustrated. Not shure how long that will last before they are ready to leave…
So, I hope HTC’s M7 is amazing. And it pulls M4, G2 and everything else you have in store, along. Against Galaxy S IV and all Samsung’s marketing budgets.
Because if, with those thousand or more engineers who created Nexus One, HD2 and those other great HTC devices, you still can’t make something amazing after slaving for 30% of their time for no pay….
It’ll be your fault, Peter Chou and Cher Wang. If I’m still reading excuses and promises this time next year, HTC doesn’t deserve to survive. And your engineers will be much better off helping Huawei, Lenovo and Samsung to do their thing