HTC "Iron Man" executive Peter Chou profiled: perfectionism, abrasive management and quick decisions
First, though, it’s worth knowing who is Peter Chou as a manager. Born in Myanmar, he studied electrical engineering in Taiwan and co-founded HTC in 1997, after a gig at Digital Equipment Company (DEC).
As a leader, Chou is described as a perfectionist paying meticulous attention to materials and design. No wonder HTC’s smartphones are easily recognized for their distinc, industrial looks. His room would often be filled with prototypes that he’d inspect, so many that a pile would form that would sometimes spill and fall on the ground.
A man of quick decisions, Chou has the will and authority to quickly adjust. This is what is thought to be in the core of both HTC’s success and current problems. In a nascent Android market, quickly changing components and delivering devices translated in a success, but in a more mature market where you have to plan ahead to secure orders HTC’s strength might have turned into weakness.
The quick rise to the top of HTC allowed the company to hire foreign executives and Chou went for it. His abrasive management style however would intervene with their egos as Chou would override their decisions without even asking. Fast forward to today, and the international team that HTC assembled has largely fallen down and the company is back to its Taiwan core with Taipei designers. Yet, it’s still an international company and Chou understands this.
Can changing the leadership shift the tide for HTC, though? It’s hard imagining the company without Chou, not just for the public, but for the employees and even the critics. And truth is there is no one person to be named a successor. Right now, HTC has kicked off a big effort to change - introducing cheaper devices in China, rejuvenating its US positions with closer carrier ties and building a new operations team. All of that happening as a new marketing campaign with Robert Downey Jr. kicks off. It’s a start, and we’re soon to hear about HTC’s new devices for this Holiday season including a phablet, the HTC One Max.