How does an unassuming back-end hardware maker develop into a global phone giant? According to this pseudonymously published longform story on the Fantong Dai Laoban (Fat Boss Dai) WeChat channel, it takes farsighted executives willing to challenge their boss, “no bullshit” leaders, and huge investments in R&D.

The article traces the influence of machismo for good and for ill, describing the company’s key figures with the hard-to-translate term “hardcore straight guys” (yinghe zhinan)—a phrase that evokes competitiveness, bullheaded literalism, and indifference to the aesthetic—a mix of the American stereotypes of the logical nerd and the competitive bro. In short, a square.

What follows is a summary, translated and often paraphrased for brevity. All research is the original author’s, whose byline translates to “False Zhang.”

Start your free trial.

Get instant access to all our premium content, newsletters, and online community.

Monthly Membership

Quarterly Membership

Yearly Membership

Already a member? Login here

What you get

Full access to all premium content

Member's only newsletters

Preferential access and discounts to all TechNode events

Direct access to the TechNode newsroom

Monthly Membership

Quarterly Membership

Yearly Membership

Jordan Schneider

Jordan Schneider is a freelancer based in Beijing and the host of the ChinaEconTalk podcast. More by Jordan Schneider