Xiaomi moving to Wuhan as Chinese tech giants get away from tech hubs

2 min read
Image credit: Cui Baoqiu

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has started the construction of a new headquarter building located in Wuhan of central China’s Hubei Province. The new Xiaomi Wuhan headquarters will be an R&D center for artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and big data, according to the company. Construction of the new headquarter will be completed in two to three years with plans to accommodate 2,500 employees.

“Wuhan is perfect for an R&D center because it’s conveniently located at central China and has rich talent pool thanks to reputable universities located in the region. With plans to construct a headquarter with up to 10,000 staff, Xiaomi wants to build Wuhan as the new hub in the AI era,” said Xiaomi founder Lei Jun, who is a Wuhan native himself.

The new project comes as part of Xiaomi strategic partnership with Wuhan municipality. In June 2017, Xiaomi, Kingsoft, and Shunwei Capital, two other companies backed by Lei Jun, have reached an agreement for construction of headquarters for the three companies. The companies have moved to Optics Valley, a high tech zone in the city, in November 2017.

After one year of operation, a total of 800 employees from the three companies are working from Wuhan, up from 30 in late 2017, introduced Liu Guojun, executive of Xiaomi Wuhan.

The now Beijing-based Xiaomi has been trying hard to push its current employees to the new headquarter. In an aggressive incentive plan, the company promised that those who make the move can keep their Beijing-level salary – likely significantly higher than average for a second-tier city  – and receive an RMB 30,000 relocation bonus, as well as get help in buying a local home. In return, workers must stay at their new office for at least two years.

At the same time, the company is trying to build a solid team by leveraging on the local talent pool from universities in the city, such as Wuhan University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

Xiaomi is among a group of Chinese tech giants that try to escape the crowded tech hubs like Beijing and Shanghai in a bid to reduce operational costs as well as enjoy various perks from second-tier cities. Huawei began relocating staff of several departments from Shenzhen to the Guangdong factory town of Dongguan. Hangzhou-based Alibaba is also establishing regional headquarters in Xi’ an and Nanjing.