ZTE said to be poaching BlackBerry, Motorola employees

The company has so far hired fewer than 20 people at BlackBerry, but it has plans to hire many more as part of a big mobile push, according to a report.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read


ZTE, the China-based mobile firm that has its sights set on improving its standing in the smartphone business by delivering high-end phones, is planning to pick up talent from two of its competitors over the next several months, according to a new report.

So far, ZTE has poached just under 20 BlackBerry employees for its business, and plans to bring on many more in the coming months, The Wall Street Journal is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the company's plans. ZTE is also eyeing the possibility of stealing some employees from Motorola, which is in the process of being sold by Google to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

ZTE is making a strong push for the smartphone market. The company has said over the last several months that it wants to become a major player in smartphones -- especially in its home country of China -- and will spend a significant sum of cash to do it. In the US alone, ZTE plans to double its spending on marketing to improve its brand awareness and make customers believe that it can compete on the same level as devices like the iPhone 5S and Samsung's Galaxy S5.

On Monday, ZTE made clear that it believes the secret to its success is to deliver high-end devices. Indeed, the company said that its focus over the next two years will be to offer higher-end smartphones that can compete with the iPhones and Galaxy S5s of the world.

In order to get to that point, ZTE has hired some prominent executives at competing companies. According to the Journal, ZTE has created a special unit tasked only with hiring senior engineers at BlackBerry to help the China-based firm build new devices. ZTE also brought on Motorola's former handset marketing executive Cao Teng, according to the Journal.

That ZTE is trying to steal employees from competitors is neither a surprise nor necessarily commonplace in the technology space. Over the last several years, details have surfaced over anti-poaching deals formed between several prominent technology companies, including Apple and Google. Although the companies are looking to put that behind them now that a class-action lawsuit settlement has been agreed upon by engineers who argued their salaries were kept down by the corporate participants, there's still an undercurrent in the space over just how much major companies compete with each other over recruits.

ZTE, the fourth-largest handset maker in the world with sights set on international expansion, apparently doesn't care whose toes it steps on to find suitable talent. And now, a behind-the-scenes war appears to have erupted between the China-based firm and its competitors.

CNET has contacted the companies for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.