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Measuring the Legacy of Foxconn CEO Terry Gou

CEO of Taiwan's Foxconn Terry Gou gestures during a press conference at the company's headquarters in Tucheng district, New Taipei City on March 12, 2019. Sam Yeh—AFP/Getty Images

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One thing that really annoys Terry Gou, the founder and boss at iPhone contract manufacturer Foxconn, is for his company to be known as the iPhone contract manufacturer. Such work for Apple certainly is what catapulted Foxconn to fame and fortune. But Gou built the company from scratch and sees it as much more–potentially even as a maker of its own brilliant devices.

Gou hinted Monday that he’ll step down some time soon. If he does, it’ll be the end of an era for an improbably successful company. Worth $100 billion, Foxconn survived where oodles of others shriveled. It owed much of its success to the wiliness of Gou, who is based in Taiwan but runs his company from its mainland Chinese offices in Shenzhen.

Founders like Gou rarely go quietly or easily. As Breakingviews notes, he intimated he’ll remain involved in strategy–which suggests Gou isn’t contemplating giving up just yet.


A small item in the paper—yes, I still read the paper, three of them to be precise—caught my eye last week. It referred to a report from consultancy Gartner that global shipments of personal computers declined 4.6% in the first quarter of 2019 from the year before.

There was a time when the tech industry paid careful attention to this number because it reflected the health of a vital industry. These days, not so much. I was curious to know what the number was, though. The PC industry shipped nearly 60 million units in the first quarter, meaning nearly a quarter billion PCs get made each year. No longer vital, but still plenty significant.


One more trip down memory lane: Milton Moskowitz, the man who created Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in America list, died last month, aged 91. That list began in 1998 and has run every year since, including last month. In years past I worked on the list with the company he founded, but I never met Moskowitz. I also never knew what an interesting and varied career he had as a journalist.