Huawei Hires Ex-Nortel CTO John Roese

Huawei, the Chinese telecom equipment maker, wants to be the biggest networking equipment maker in the world. Furthermore, the company doesn’t want to be known as a supplier of cut rate products (though it makes a bulk of its revenues from those products).

So it has started hiring a bunch of smart people, including many of them in its North American offices. Today, it announced that  John Roese, formerly CTO of Nortel is now going to work for it as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Huawei North America R&D. In 2009, the company made a splash when it hired British Telecom aka BT CTO Matt Bross as its chief technology officer.

Huawei, in 2009 had $408 million in U.S. sales, but since then has been ramping up its sales and R&D efforts.

Roese, who in the past worked for Broadcom (s BRCM), Enterasys and Cabletron Systems is going to be based in Huawei’s North America R&D headquarters in Santa Clara, California. In my past interactions with Roese, I have found him to be a clear and long-term thinker. Roese’s hiring shows that Huawei has grand ambitions, and is willing to spend liberally on R&D, in sharp contrast with some of the larger equipment makers in the U.S. and Western Europe.

There has been a perceptible decline in venture capital investments in the networking sectors. It was startups who hired the best and brightest. But as the carriers consolidated, so did the number of equipment makers and thus decreasing opportunities for startups, who found it hard to make a breakthrough at large carriers. Venture Capitalists shifted their attentions elsewhere.

Huawei and its smaller counterpart, ZTE Corp., spotted an opportunity to take a lead in developing new networking and infrastructure technologies. Huawei, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), ranked second in terms of patents applications under the WIPO Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in 2009. It had filed for over 42,000 patents at the end of 2009.

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