On the savannah of East Africa, there are limited aquatic and grass resources in each habitat. The wildebeest is one of the largest populations here. If it stays for a long time, it will become difficult to survive and reproduce. Therefore, as the environment changes, the wildebeest will migrate mightily to new habitats.Nowadays, a group of mobile phone companies are like wildebeest populations. They are leaving the smartphone industry in the previous habitat and heading to the automobile industry in the next habitat, more precisely, the smart electric vehicle industry.
Reporter | Xiao Wenjie
Editor | Ni Ni
This migration began to accelerate this year. In January, the progress of Apple’s car-building plan was intensively reported, and Apple Car may be available in 2025; in March, Lei Jun announcedMilletFormally entered the smart electric vehicle industry; in April, the BAIC Jihu Alpha S, in which Huawei participated deeply, was unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show; in the same period,OPPORumors of building cars have been heard frequently.
The BAIC Polar Fox Alpha S, in which Huawei is deeply involved, was highlighted at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show.
This “migration” is still in the “overture” stage. Major companies have just started hiring people without a clear product plan. But the competition is already fierce just by hiring people. According to the estimation of Zhang Sanjie, a consultant expert in the automobile industry of Career International, a human resources service organization, the talent gap in this industry will be hundreds of thousands or even millions in the next five years.
And from this turbulent “Overture”, how much can we glimpse the answers to several basic questions behind the mobile phone companies building cars: Why do they collectively do this? What should they do? And, can they be made?
Smart phones and smart cars on the same root
If you only look at the market potential, the basic logic of the mobile phone company’s transition is well understood. The auto market is already much larger than the smartphone market, and smart electric vehicles are now an industry with much greater potential than smartphones.
Excluding the impact of the epidemic, the growth rate of smartphone shipments has been below 5% for four consecutive years. Smart electric vehicles, a market that has attracted attention due to Tesla, will develop rapidly in China in 2020. The products of several startups have been recognized. Most of the world’s auto giants also recognize that this is an irreversible industry trend. In the plans announced by Volkswagen, Toyota, BMW and other companies, in 2030, at least half of the cars they sell will be pure electric vehicles.
Although it is not uncommon in business history to switch to the main business following the changes of the times, it is mostly a case. Many top companies in one industry collectively join another industry. Apart from the market environment, there must be more specific and subtle reasons behind it.
The first is the similarity of the industry. If the characteristics of smart electric vehicles are to be listed technically, the core is battery drive, software definition, online updates and autonomous driving. In addition to autonomous driving that has not yet been fully realized, the other three smart phones are also in line-or, this is the trend that Tesla is inspired by smart phones.
To be more blunt, the essence of this round of automotive industry changes is to make cars become mobile terminals like smart phones. From this point of view, mobile phone companies naturally understand the “new product” of smart electric vehicles better than other industries.
Although the supply chains of mobile phones and automobiles are quite different, there are many overlaps in software and smart technology. For example, Qualcomm, the core supplier of smart phones, is currently an important supplier of automotive chips, and its products such as communication chips for in-vehicles originally come from mobile phones and are used in cars after being verified by vehicle regulations.
andSamsungCompanies that own mobile phone products, such as Sony, Huawei, and others, are already important auto parts suppliers. Sony’s self-driving test car is very mature. Although Huawei has repeatedly emphasized that it does not build cars, it has been able to supply most components other than traditional car components (such as chassis, power systems, etc.).
The most intuitive experience for consumers is the in-vehicle operating system. At this stage, most of the car companies (especially new car companies) in-vehicle systems are developed based on Android. This can help them access the existing main applications for the first time and provide an operating experience close to that of a smart phone. Alphabet, the developer of Android, is the parent company of Waymo, the current leader in autonomous driving technology. In other words, whether it is software or hardware, mobile phones are relatively close to smart electric vehicles.
This is naturally also reflected in the mobile phone company when they build a car team. Their first step is often internal transfer, followed by external recruitment. Take Xiaomi as an example. After Lei Jun announced that it would build a car, it did not immediately start a large-scale recruitment of talents, but waited until June to publicly announce its recruitment requirements. During this period, the main preparatory work for Xiaomi’s car manufacturing is internal transfer, and it will continue.
Several headhunters in the automotive industry told YiMagazine, CBN, that Xiaomi’s internal employees are “very enthusiastic about changing jobs.” And part of the management-especially the person in charge of the smart home-related business-or will join the newly formed car manufacturing subsidiary. These services are closely related to the online update of mobile phone operating systems, and Xiaomi’s cars can be directly integrated into the existing Internet of Things system. One of the important tasks of Xiaomi’s human resources department is to systematically sort out internal personnel and see which ones are ready-made talents.
The main reason for the high enthusiasm of employees for job transfer is not only the importance of new business, but also the breakthrough potential on the basis of existing business. The audio-visual entertainment facilities in the car are very similar to the traditional black appliances, but there is more room for improvement. Not only the LCD screen on the center console of the car, in the future, the front windshield of the car, and even the sunroof, can become the carrier of video content.
Not only the LCD screen on the center console of the car, but in the future, the front windshield and even the sunroof of the car can become the carrier of video content.
This is not imagination. Wang Jiarui, who has just joined Jidu Automobile, a joint venture between Baidu and Geely, as the product manager of smart cockpits, has just worked as a product manager for players on video websites. What the new company wants him to do is to get rid of the shackles of the existing in-car audio-visual facilities and think about the entertainment experience in the car from the beginning.
Invisible “pushing hand”: Apple
The above content can be regarded as the existing conditions that mobile phone companies have to build cars, but most of them have decided to build cars this year, and there are more specific environmental driving factors. In addition to the success of Tesla, Weilai, Ideal, Xiaopeng and others in 2020 that have encouraged these mobile phone companies, another factor that is easily overlooked is Apple.
More than one candidate who has just participated in the interview with a new car company told YiMagazine that all companies will talk about who is the strongest competitor in the future during the interview. Apple is the most frequently mentioned name except Tesla. In addition to Apple’s technical capabilities, the main reason is its strong brand influence-the brand was originally the advantage of these mobile phone companies compared to the car companies, and their brands are closer to the current consumers. But in front of Apple, this advantage becomes a disadvantage.
Apple has not officially admitted that it wants to build a car, but this plan was exposed by the media in 2014, named “Titan” (Titan). At that time, Tesla’s Model S had only been selling for a year, and now the hottest Weilai has just been established, and most companies have not taken electric vehicles seriously.
However, Apple has hesitated to build cars, and news of team reductions has been reported frequently. There are even reports that Apple has given up building its own cars and chose to develop autonomous driving technology. It is not until December 2020 that the exact timetable for Apple’s car building reappears-the first Apple Car will be unveiled in 2025. After that, it came out that Apple was constantly hiring people and was discussing cooperation with major automakers. The latest development is that Apple is already discussing battery supply with companies such as CATL.
This makes Apple’s cars clearer, and also makes competitors nervous. After all, almost all the similarities between smart electric cars and smart phones mentioned above were first introduced by Apple. On the other hand, Apple’s strong capital reserves allow it to withstand the risks of “burning money” to build cars.
Shiga Toshiyuki (former COO of Nissan Motor), the chairman of INCJ, an investment institution established by 19 Japanese companies, expressed his importance to Apple in an interview with Nissan Keizai Shimbun: “(Apple Cars) may let cars pass All value disappeared.” According to media reports, Xiaomi, OPPO and other companies all decided or seriously investigated car building around the beginning of 2021, and the timeline was linked to the news of Apple building cars.
In addition, Foxconn, Apple’s closest partner in the smartphone industry, has also decided to enter the electric vehicle manufacturing industry and has invested in electric vehicle projects such as Byton.
Taking into account the rumored release of Apple cars in 2025, by then, higher-level autonomous driving technology is expected to be realized in mass-produced cars, and after the full application of autonomous driving technology, the value of the car as a smart terminal and private space will be even greater. Complete release-referring to the situation of companies such as Weilai, it takes about 4 years from the establishment of a new car company to the launch of its first product.
For mobile phone companies that are new to the auto industry, things shouldn’t be too late.
Fierce battle for talent
The key to quickly getting the car into the track is to quickly form a complete team. Even if there are many internal resources and talents that can be transferred, the automobile is a completely different product after all. Taking into account the manufacturing process, the company will be larger and the organizational structure will be more complicated. New car companies such as Weilai, Ideal, and Xiaopeng that are currently recognized by the market have more than 5,000 employees.
Even more serious is that mobile phone companies are not the only ones making cars. Not only are traditional automobile companies forming teams for new brands of smart electric vehicles, but even non-industry fund holders (such as real estate and home appliance companies) have also established automobile brands. At the moment, they are all rapidly forming teams, some of which are much faster than mobile phone companies.
For example, Jidu Automobile. It was announced less than a month after its establishment. It already has an initial team of more than 200 people, and it has invited Xia Yiping, the original Mobike CTO, as the CEO. Its plan is to reach 3,000 people in the team by the end of next year. “Even in start-up companies, this kind of rhythm is rare.” Human resources expert Zhang Sanjie commented on YiMagazine of China Business News.
The demand for talents is large, and the competition for talents in key positions will be more intense. Especially in the field of autonomous driving, among them, engineers with 5 to 7 years or even longer experience in research and development are the most sought-after. At present, all new car companies list autonomous driving technology as a necessary option for the company’s self-developed technology, but there are not many talents in this field, which makes well-known team members recognized by the industry become the object of competition. High-level project managers have an annual salary of more than 2 million yuan.
For example, these mobile phone companies that want to build cars will first call the backbone employees of Baidu’s former autonomous driving team, and then the backbone of autonomous driving members of companies such as Xiaopeng and Ideal. These engineers can receive 20 or 30 headhunting calls every day, and these companies will send them offers. In other words, for the recruiting company, this kind of talent belongs to the state of “as long as they are willing to come,”. For these technicians, the basic salary increase is more than 50%.
Engineers who have worked for two or three years are also favored. In contrast, they are more likely to be moved by salary increases, and senior engineers and project managers will consider more. For example, they will consider the development of their entire team and their own technical prospects. In addition to salary, they also value whether they can maintain their leading position in the industry and whether they can join a company with long-term prospects. So many people tend to stay in the original company instead of going to a new company and repeating what they have done.
Zhang Sanjie described the current state of talent flow in the field of autonomous driving: “When communicating with candidates, we can no longer simply use salary as an attraction. This is no longer enough.” The current strategy of Zhang Sanjie and customers is to select talents from the beginning. , Looking for talents who not only consider short-term salary, but also have longer-term plans. “Otherwise, if you rush to expand the team with a high salary, there will be a process of elimination in the end, which will cause the team to become unstable.”
The second round of car building
Although mobile phone companies have faced fierce competition for talent from the very beginning, if they take a long-term perspective, in fact, it is easier for them to build a car company because they are not the first “crab-eaters”. “.
From 2014 to 2016, dozens of entrepreneurial teams tried to take advantage of the “dongfeng” of electric drive technology to enter the automotive industry with extremely high technical barriers in the past. The companies that have survived several years of competition not only provide a set of entrepreneurial paradigms for the second wave of new peers, but also provide a talent pool that has survived the survival of the fittest and tested them.
In addition to core technical personnel such as autonomous driving, the most popular companies new to the automotive industry are the employees of Weilai, Ideal, and Xiaopeng, especially those who “understand both the automotive industry and Internet thinking”-in addition to successful experience , These people also have a more tangible advantage: the ability to adapt to the pace of the start-up company’s work.
In the first wave of car-making entrepreneurship, there are many talents from traditional automobile companies who have taken the initiative to return to their old owners after entering the start-up company for a period of time. Aside from the failure of some entrepreneurial projects, it is more because they are not used to the pace and way of thinking of the startup company. “The inertia of the work style has great influence. Whether right or wrong, some people can adapt, and some people just can’t.” Zhang Sanjie said.
The core of the so-called Internet thinking is to get rid of the routines of traditional auto companies and redefine cars from the perspective of users. This means that they cannot follow the rules, but at the same time, they must be able to deal with people in the traditional car manufacturing and supply chain, because this is still the basis for car building. The person who can integrate the two ways of working is the most needed role in each department.
Of course, some of these people come from traditional car companies, but more of them come from outside the car industry. This is also the first group of car-making startups to accumulate important experience for mobile phone companies, that is, looking for talents outside the industry. Specifically, the new wave of car manufacturing companies like to look for talents in user experience, marketing, service and other fields, such as companies such as Apple and IKEA, or industries such as luxury goods and hotels. The marketing and sales talents of traditional automobile companies are hardly considered.
“This process has been experienced by companies such as Weilai in the early years, and it has gradually collided through interviews and actual work. They also recruited many people from the traditional automobile industry at that time, and later discovered which brands are more relevant to them.” Zhang Sanjie said.
In more traditional fields such as manufacturing and supply chain, China may currently be one of the most abundant and complete markets in the world. If you want to build a modern car factory, an experienced team is easy to find, and they can already manage the difference between smart electric vehicles and traditional fuel vehicles in manufacturing-this is the advantage of mobile phone companies.
You know, the wildebeest is the main force of the East African animal migration, but it is not the first to migrate. Zebras are the vanguard. They can sense risks and find a suitable route. The wildebeest will follow, and will work hard to improve their survival probability.
However, no matter how large a community is, many members will not be able to persist in the long migration.
The same is true for car building. Even with a similar industry background and sufficient resources, car building is still a matter with a much higher probability of failure than the probability of success, not to mention the presence of powerful enemies.
Whether it is OPPO or Xiaomi, there are employees who do not want to disclose their names and positions to YiMagazine, CBN, that many people still hesitate about building cars within the company. Apple’s hesitation on building a car was even more on the table, and it lasted for several years.
However, once the decision is made, it is necessary to speed up from the beginning and devote all of its energy-the hordes of “wildest horses” have been assembled and are ready to go.