By Jack Nicas
- June 17, 2021
Doug Guthrie spent 1994 riding a single-speed bicycle between factories in Shanghai for a dissertation on Chinese industry. Within years, he was one of America’s leading experts on China’s turn toward capitalism and was helping companies venture East.
Two decades later, in 2014, Apple hired him to help navigate perhaps its most important market. By then, he was worried about China’s new direction.
China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, was leaning on Western companies to strengthen his grip on the country. Mr. Guthrie realized that few companies were bigger targets, or more vulnerable, than Apple. It assembled nearly every Apple device in China and had made the region its No. 2 sales market.
So Mr. Guthrie began touring the company with a slide show and lecture to ring the alarm. Apple, he said, had no Plan B.