Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Firms need to support local talent

Instead of chasing orders from customers, MediaTek Inc founder and chairman Tsai Ming-kai (蔡明介) on Sunday made a rare appearance at a job fair at his alma mater, National Taiwan University, which is considered the cradle of the nation’s top technology talent.

Tsai’s attendance at the job fair shows that securing quality talent can be just as important as gaining new customers for any company seeking growth. For technology-oriented companies like MediaTek, it is particularly crucial to obtain sufficient research-and-development (R&D) engineers to accelerate development of cutting-edge technologies in the dynamic and highly competitive chip industry.

Besides, MediaTek — which supplies mobile phones chips to a long list of Chinese brands including Xiaomi Corp — has entered the industry’s major league and needs to gear up R&D efforts to combat larger rival Qualcomm Inc, as well as smaller rivals such as Spreadtrum Communications Inc in China, the world’s biggest mobile phone market.

Last month, MediaTek said it would spend 20 percent more on R&D to support its revenue growth and to help reach its goal of gaining a 40 percent share in China’s 4G long-term evolution market.

Last year, MediaTek allocated 20.3 percent of its revenue to finance R&D, based on IC Insights statistics, but the figure still lags far behind Qualcomm’s 28.5 percent.

MediaTek saw its ranking climb five notches in the world’s chip designing industry to No. 9 last year, while Qualcomm is still in second spot.

The battle for young local talent is heating up after Alibaba Group chief executive Jack Ma (馬雲) unveiled a NT$10 billion (US$316.7 million) program on Tuesday last week — also at National Taiwan University — to help local young entrepreneurs build their own businesses.

Ma’s proposal came after Cheetah Mobile Inc, a Chinese mobile tools application developer, said in January that it planned to set up a NT$100 million program to fund Taiwanese startups in the mobile Internet sector. They are all eyeing the nation’s high-quality and yet less expensive workforce.

To win this battle for talent, Tsai tried to convince students that joining MediaTek would be a significant step in beginning their career, as the chipmaker offers competitive salaries and a world-class working environment. The chipmaker would offer an annual paycheck starting at NT$1 million, with lavish employee bonuses and standard benefits.

Compared with MediaTek’s offering, Ma’s and Cheetah’s proposals might seem more appealing to local young people, as they promise much-needed capital to turn ideas into commercial products and to then sell those products to the world’s most populous nation.

Tsai, however, warned about the risks of such ventures, saying that the likelihood of becoming a successful entrepreneur is just 10 percent, and that joining MediaTek would help raise those odds, as the chipmaker offers the chance for employees to work with world-class talent to accumulate the experience and know-how to become self-employed.

As the trend of self-employment is growing not only in Taiwan, but also overseas, the chipmaker said it is also considering creating a fund to finance young entrepreneurs, joining the government’s efforts to encourage young people to start their own businesses.

Local companies tend to be more conservative about supporting startups. They take a safer approach by financing new businesses or development of new technologies initiated by their employees.

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