More lovely quotes about Steve Jobs from Foxconn’s founder, owner and chairman Terry Gou. Business Insider reports that Gou at a Taipei shareholder meeting yesterday referred to Apple’s boss as a “weiren”, the Chinese term for a great man that is very rarely used to describe living people. He then launched into a Steve Jobs appraisal.
I am convinced that he is doing this because he is dedicated to his ideals and his vision, not out of any need to make more money. I have often asked myself if I would have worked as hard if I was as ill as Steve Jobs. My answer is that my wife most likely would not have let me work, and I would have stayed home. But I am not Steve Jobs.
During the meeting, Terry Gou was heckled by a minority shareholder. Gou asked the heckler how many shares he had. When he replied that he held five shares, Gou told him to shut up, adding that if he had 5,000 shares, he could sit at the big table with him.
The 60-year old billionaire was ranked by Forbe’s as Taiwan’s richest guy. He recently lavished praise on Apple’s ability to make lots of money on fashionable gadgets he described as “difficult to make”. He tells of himself in an exclusive Bloomberg BusinessWeek interview that he isn’t in it for the money. “I am not interested in knowing how much I have. I don’t care. I am working not for money at this moment, I am working for society, I am working for my employees.” The Foxconn suicides? He at first didn’t perceive them as a problem. More juicy quotes below…
“I should be honest with you. The first one, second one, and third one, I did not see this as a serious problem. We had around 800,000 employees, and here [in Longhua, a factory campus] we are about 2.1 square kilometers. At the moment, I’m feeling guilty. But at that moment, I didn’t think I should be taking full responsibility,” he tells of the widely reported suicides in his factories. As you know, Foxconn, a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industry and listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, is an Asian contract manufacturer renowned for assembling consumer electronics products for Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Dell, Apple and many other gadget makers. It’s a cutthroat business: Their operating expenses climbed 80 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and operating margins were halved to just 1.1 percent, enough to drop from Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index. “I admit I didn’t do well”, Gou told Financial Times. Foxconn earned notoriety for tough working conditions and suicides in its factories, often referred to as sweatshops. Recently SACOM, a Hong Kong-based labour organization, secretly filmed Foxconn’s latest iPad 2 factory in Chengdu, China.
The organization has publicly accused Foxconn of “misleading job advertisement, dangerous working environment, inadequate measures on work safety, excessive and forced overtime work, and deprived of social life”. On May 20, Foxconn’s iPad assembling facility went ablaze after the flammable aluminum dust had caused an explosion in an electronic parts polishing workshop, leaving three killed and at least fifteen injured. The facility resumed operation a week ago. Foxconn is also planning on opening an iPad assembly factory in Brazil.