Thursday, May 26, 2005
China = Wal-Mart
What's big, efficient and crushes most competition?
At an interesting (and entertaining) Silicon Forum lunch earlier today in Redwood Shores, Brian Halla, CEO of the $2B National Semiconductor shared his views about all things China (and several passionate rants against Congress and the government that are continuing to make it harder for American companies to do business).
As Auren Hoffman, the moderator of the talk and organizer of these quintessential Silicon Valley lunches suggested. and Brian Halla agreed, China = Wal-Mart, after Brian claimed that China was "all about logistics" and gave several examples of how the Chinese are making it their highest priority to help companies that want to do business there. Unlike the environment in the US, a theme that came up several times.
Halla started his lunch-time chat with a pro-immigration stance, suggesting that the US start to attach H1B visas to every PhD degree awarded in the US. Following on a 2-1/2 hour hour conversation I had with a Western state candidate for state senator yesterday, this seems to be the theme of the week. Why doesn't the US encourage the smartest students who're here to study to stay after they graduate? Why are we instead making it tougher for them to even attend school here in the post-9/11 environment?
Halla mentioned the example of Andy Grove, founder of Intel (where Halla spent many years) and a Hungarian immigrant. Had he not started Intel, and founded the PC industry, upon who's success have been built so many hundreds of subsequent success stories. Without Intel there may not have ever been a Yahoo! or eBay. And so Halla pointed out that this one immigrant single-handedly created tens of millions of jobs; he added: "jobs are created by those who innovate."
Going back to China. Halla suggested that everyone visit Shanghai, and then visit again in three months, just to see the difference. Things are moving that fast. But here we're slowed down by government regulations that are hardly pro-business (the new rules that require companies expense options, which he felt was the elimination of options, the post-Enron reaction called Sarbanes-Oxley that costs companies tens of millions to comply with each year etc.). Said Halla, we're ready to compete with our "nostrils flared" but "will our politicians please give us a chance?"