Look no further than Shenzhen if you’re looking to work with all the cool sh*t in the tech world.
This city in southern Guangdong Province in China has exploded in population and popularity since being named the first of China’s Special Economic Zones in 1980. According to a specialist recruitment company, Hays China, more and more talent is needed to keep up with the rapid growth of the city. Because of China’s ambitious goals in their ‘Made in China 2025’ policy, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving have become major sectors in Shenzhen. China’s most innovative city has top companies putting a ton of money and talent into making that dream a reality. Below are four companies in Shenzhen that not only are making strides into achieving the country’s goals but are also great places to work, according to online employee feedback.
Before we continue though. As you may have gathered, Shenzhen’s incredible growth is due, in part, to its industry work ethic. That means most companies expect their employees to work 12 hours a day, six days a week. All the companies below follow that standard with some employee reviews enjoying it and some not. If you’re not interested in that kind of grind, then… maybe stick to Silicon Valley.
If you haven’t heard of Tencent, you probably have heard of one of their most famous services, the social media, messaging, and mobile payment app WeChat. Reaching 1 billion monthly active users this year, it’s the world’s largest social network that’s not Facebook. The company is also one of China’s most successful tech business, ranking number 7 on Fortunechina.com’s 2018 top 500 most successful public companies, surpassing even e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Tencent is working to go beyond WeChat, opening an AI lab in 2016, with their vision to “Make AI Everywhere”. They have 70 AI research scientists and 300 engineers working on “machine learning, computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language processing and their applications in Game, Social, Content, and Platform AI.” With their YouTu Lab, Tencent is also becoming a leader in facial recognition. The Shenzhen-based company is also looking to sharing its passion by creating a platform that helps other companies develop their own AI efforts. Self-driving cars are also on Tencent’s to-do list, working with automotive company FAW China to develop the technology, getting a license by the city to test drive the cars.
Beyond the fantastic projects that you could work on, Tencent made our list because of their competitive pay, great training system, welcoming work environment, and providing many opportunities to learn from your peers.
Baidu, headquartered in Beijing, controls China’s internet search services and is one of the largest internet companies in the world. Also known as the “Google of China”, the company opened their Shenzhen branch in 2012, twice the size of their headquarters in Beijing.
Artificial intelligence is a major focus for the company with most of their R&D expenses directed toward salaries in this field. Just this year, Baidu presented an AI-powered tool that could translate languages in real time. Using a similar technology, the company’s voice assistant DuerOS is on 150 million devices since its unveiling last year.
Started in 2017, Baidu’s Apollo project is centered on automated driving. Presented as “the Android of the autonomous driving industry,” the software created from this project will be free and open-source, available for any company to use. The program already has partners like Ford and Nvidia. It also has a rigorous production schedule – the goal is to have complete autonomous driving before 2021.
Baidu’s employer appeal is very similar to Tencent’s review. The company offers great mentorship, a pleasant work environment, great facilities, but still very hardworking.
SenseTime is a Hong Kong-based company specializing in AI technology, particularly in relation to facial recognition, autonomous driving, and medical imaging. Started in 2014, it was Hong Kong’s first tech unicorn, valued over $4.5 billion. In early 2018, the company announced that they will build an innovation center in Shenzhen, using the center to work on projects related to AI, among others.
The company is most famous for its facial recognition technology but wants to start applying that technology to other avenues like working with the Shenzhen police to improve their infrastructure or using it to monitor drivers’ attention to the road in ride-sharing situations. As co-founder Wang Xiaogang explained, “We want to become an AI platform that empowers different businesses.”
Even though SenseTime is much smaller and younger than Tencent and Baidu, the company is building a positive work culture. Colleagues are nice and happy to help, interns are paid well, your schedule is flexible, and there’s even free lunch.
Dublin based Accenture may be an odd choice for our final spot, but this company is a great way to enter the AI field at the start. The company is a self-described as a “global professional services company,” involved in consulting, strategy, technology, digital, and operations services. It’s been working in China since at least 2015.
Now, the company is starting to seriously focus on China and artificial intelligence. Just last month Accenture announced that it would be opening an applied research and development lab in Shenzhen early 2019. The lab is part of a larger project called the Accenture Innovation Hub where they can provide other services like investments and business solutions to their clients.
With the new lab, they’ll also partner and invest with Chinese tech companies, academic institutions, and startups to work on AI and robotics. Accenture’s first investment and partnership is with Malong Technologies, an artificial intelligence startup also based in Shenzhen. Malong’s main offering is ProductAI which allows online customers to find products within a photograph. The startup was co-founded by an American who started the business in Shenzhen while working for Microsoft Research.
Because Accenture offers a variety of services and is new to Shenzhen, the online employee reviews aren’t as accurate about the tech work environment as the other companies. However, based on the overall feedback, working for Accenture will offer lots of opportunities to learn and grow and you’ll be in a great collaborative environment.