The Future Of Foxconn: Ten Thousand Horses Galloping
Shenzhen is a town of migrants. The estimated median ages is between 15 and 25 and the old and battered sits in wild contrast with the brand new. Even in the few years between my last visit and this one, the city has changed so drastically that I barely recognized it. The last time I was here I imagined the place as a cross between a favela and Blade Runner, high and low tech mashed together, the sharp tails of known carcinogens mixing with the soft end of Suntory in a highball glass and the scent of a young executive assistant?s Chanel No 5.
Now it?s mostly Suntory and Chanel, the carcinogens banished to the outskirts of town. There?s a boom in China, and Foxconn?s executives see a way out of many of the messes, real or imagined, that plagued the company.
Foxconn is pinning their future success on their employees? future success. While this may seem like uncessary largesse, it is an interesting bet on the future of a working class that has been transformed into a middle class. And those workers, once forced by circumstance to stand for ten hours a day, are workers that no longer need or want what seemingly meager financial benefits Foxconn has to offer.
The future of Foxconn, if Louis Woo has anything to do about it, is in retail. While the retail ? or channel ? business is less than 1% of Foxconn?s revenues, the goal is simple: to empower Foxconn employees through education and entrepreneurship.
?We call this ?integrated services,?? said Woo. His mission is to create a system wherein a Mom and Pop shop in the hinterlands can sell white goods ? appliances, fridges, and the like ? as well as electronics. Foxconn would take the orders and ship out immediately (if the item isn?t in stock) and the local representatives, who were trained on the line in Shenzhen, would be able to handle installation, troubleshooting, and minor repair issues.
Think of it as a million Best Buys blooming.
?The stores are called 10,000 Horses Galloping and we?re opening them primarily in the third-tier c