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Dr. Zheng or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the China Venture

At the founding of the H3C venture in 2003, Dr. Shusheng Zheng was Huawei’s CTO working for Ren Zhengfei. Zheng helped develop H3C’s original product – the SS7 switch. He was in charge of the Huawei Enterprise division when it was spun out from Huawei, into what would eventually become the joint venture with 3Com, H3C. Zheng is a driven executive and a very smart technologist who was integral in growing H3C from nothing to over 6,000 employees. He went on to found three companies in China that are rumored to be doing very well.

According to other executives, Zheng was underrated at 3Com because of his unique style. He resisted taking direction, he was not particularly polite, and he believed that the China way was the best way, which didn’t necessarily mesh well with western customers. That said, his successful work in China cannot be disputed.

If it hadn’t been for the products created under his and Bob Mao’s guidance, HP may have never desired to acquire 3Com. Their efforts in the H3C venture definitely gave 3Com an edge as it neared its final end game—acquisition.

H3C still exists today. Since 2016, it is now called the New H3C Group, and remains a joint venture of HP (49%) and Tsinghua Unigroup (51%).

The picture below shows the key players from H3C. It was taken about one year after the HP acquisition. Many thanks to Saar Gillai and Ron Sege for sharing the recollections that made this post possible.

From left to right seated:

  • Jesse Wu – H3C VP of Sales & Marketing, generally the #2 person in H3C.

  • Dr Shusheng Zheng – H3C COO, CEO, VP.

  • Bethany Mayer, SVP and GM of HP Networking, of which 3com was part of. Bethany replaced Marius Haas about a year after the 3Com acquisition.

  • George Haddad, SVP of HR for the HP Enterprise Group.

Top row from left to right:

  • 1st person - unknown - possibly IT for H3C.

  • Henry Tso - head of R&D at H3C (number 2 or 3 in H3C…the troika was Zheng, Jesse Wu, Henry Tso and/or Rose Chen). Henry was probably the most supportive of the West in H3C leadership.

  • Saar Gillai - SVP of Products at 3Com, responsible for directing H3C on what to build, and later, CTO of Networking at HP, later SVP/GM of HP Cloud.

  • Rose Chen – SVP, Senior Advisor for H3C, at times the go between H3C China and 3Com.

  • Laurel Marshall - VP of HR, HP Networking.

  • 6th person – unknown, possibly HR for H3C.

  • Caleb Lo – H3C SVP & CFO.

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