Women 3.0: Cher Wang

Name: Cher Wang

Short biography: Cher Wang (in pinyin, Wáng Xuěhóng) was born in Taiwan in 1958. She attended private school in California, and after graduating from high school, went to the University of California, Berkeley, as a music major. After only three weeks, however, she switched to economics, in which she received her master’s degree in 1981.1 Weng went on to found VIA Technologies—a company that produces microprocessors and other computer parts—in 1987, and HTC Corporation—which manufactures smartphones and tablet computers—in 1997. She’s married to Wen Chi Chen, CEO of VIA Technologies; they have two children and live in Taipei, Taiwan. Oh, and she and her husband are also the richest people in Taiwan, with a net worth (in May 2011) of more than $8.8 billion.2

What they do: Wang is currently chairwoman of both VIA and HTC. As such, she’s at the head of companies that produce parts for computers and smartphones for a variety of service providers. In 2011, HTC became the U.S.’s largest smartphone vendor, with 24 percent of nationwide sales. (In comparison, Apple was third with 20 percent.)3 She’s also entered into the music technology world in recent years, buying 51 percent of Beats Entertainment for $300 million. (The only other owners of Beats are Dr. Dre; Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records; and Universal Music Group.)

Why they matter: As the head of HTC, Wang is one of the world’s leaders in smartphone technology. She’s become such through smart business practices such as making a variety of phones for many of the major providers and paying attention to customer needs and demands. According to Fast Company’s list of 2011 Most Influential Women in Technology, “her greatest corporate gambit was turning HTC into an indispensable ally of both Google and Microsoft. In the coming years, HTC is poised to be Google and Microsoft's secret weapon in selling their respective smartphone operating systems to the masses.”4

Wang has made her future plans clear by asserting HTC’s interest in keeping at the forefront of the smartphone market. At the company’s 15th anniversary celebration in June, Wang said that the company will register and purchase patents in a variety of “different fields.”5

She’s an obviously smart woman with a head for business, who believes in the power of hard work. In a 2008 New York Times profile, she’s quoted as saying: “I always have this imagination, something I want to use. I don’t understand the idea of leisure time.”1 The fact that she's a billionaire is almost stomach-able when you realize that she's worked for what she has.

Her other achievements and awards include:

  • Being listed at No. 20 on Forbes magazine’s 2011 list of the world’s 100 most powerful women.6

  • Being a billionaire.

How they got where they are: Wang is the daughter of another of Taiwan’s (formerly—he died in 2008) richest technology gurus, Wang Yung-Ching. While she got an early boost from being born into wealthy, she’s definitely made her own way in the technology world, through smart choices and an eye for what users want. A 2008 New York Times profile asserts this: “The daughter of one of the richest men in the world, she never made headlines as a profligate jet setter sponging off her father’s wealth. Indeed, she rarely makes headlines at all, although she started her own multibillion-dollar company and made her own fortune.”1

References: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

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