Ren Zhengfei, a former military engineer in the People’s Liberation Army, founded Huawei in 1987. At the time of its establishment, Huawei focused on manufacturing phone switches, but has since expanded to include building telecommunications networks, providing operational and consulting services and equipment to enterprises inside and outside of China, and manufacturing communications devices for the consumer market. Huawei had over 170,000 employees as of September 2017, around 76,000 of them engaged in Research & Development (R&D). It has 21 R&D institutes in countries including China, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Finland, France, Belgium, Germany, Colombia, Sweden, Ireland, India, Russia, Israel, and Turkey. As of 2017 the company invested US$13.8 billion in R&D, up from US$5 billion in 2013.
Huawei has deployed its products and services in more than 170 countries, and as of 2011 it served 45 of the 50 largest telecomoperators.[need quotation to verify] Its networks, numbering over 1,500, reaches one third of the world’s population. Huawei overtook Ericsson in 2012 as the largest telecommunications-equipment manufacturer in the world and overtook Apple in 2018 as the second-largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world, behind Samsung Electronics. It ranks 72nd on the Fortune Global 500list. In December 2018, Huawei reported that its annual revenue had risen to US$108.5 billion in 2018 (a 21% increase over 2017), surpassing $100 billion for the first time in company history.