US Sanctions May Help HiSilicon Competitors Snag Huawei Employees


As Huawei continues to battle US sanctions, Shanghai-headquartered fabless semiconductor company Unisoc and Chinese IC vendors are snapping up HiSilicon Technologies employees. That's according to industry insider sources, as reported by China-based publication DigiTimes. Xiaomi and Oppo are also reportedly eyeballing workers from the fully-Huawei-owned chipset manufacture.

The acquisitions primarily center around HiSilicon IC design talent, the sources indicate. And the shuffle isn't happening on a small scale either if reports are accurate. Instead, the recent employee poaching efforts appear to be part of a growing trend "of human capital flight" from the company.

Huawei appears to be offsetting its chip division losses

While the sources behind reports and the information have not been independently verified, recent activity from Huawei may add weight to the claims. Namely, the Chinese smartphone and 5G tech giant has recently begun hiring new IT grads. And that comes with the promise of up to five times what would be earned elsewhere.


Specifically, the company is actively hiring for positions with HiSilicon. Those positions are related to a variety of next-gen technologies across the spectrum from computer software architecture to chipset and semiconductor development. An associated promotional poster reportedly asks for "talents" who are "brave" enough to "challenge in the new world."

Prospective workers need to meet stringent hiring requirements too. To begin with, the company wants employees who completed their post-graduation degree after 1 January 2017. Those who are pursuing their degree can apply as well. That's so long as they have an expected completion date on or before December 31, 2021.

The process of hiring new workers has already begun, in the interim. Reports indicate that Huawei will carry on with that hiring until next year.


If there's a trend, are the US sanctions against Huawei really to blame?

The ongoing rollout of sanctions from the US that are aimed directly at Huawei arguably has something to do with employees abandoning ship. While those sanctions have, in some areas, been softened recently, that isn't the overall trend. The US government has increasingly made it difficult for Huawei to gain access to components, even from other regional partners.

That's stacking atop previous sanctions that prevent Huawei from doing business in the US, particularly as that concerns mobile networking.

Setting that matter aside, the company also can't interact with any US companies for equipment. That includes indirect interaction via some global companies that utilize US equipment. As a result, Huawei is increasingly looking inward to develop its own solutions, as hinted in the promotional poster mentioned above.


Simultaneously, the company's decision to begin hiring new employees may be exacerbating matters.

The company's stated goal is to bring in fresh talent. And that's almost explicitly to face the challenges presented by US sanctions. That search for new HiSilicon workers could, on one hand, be giving current employees the impression that Huawei is in deeper trouble than it has let on.

Conversely, the hiring — coupled with Huawei's company culture — could be viewed as a signal to workers in terms of job security.