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Chinese billionaire behind Faraday Future reveals capital troubles

Monday, November 7, 2016 14:17
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Jia Yueting, China’s billionaire CEO and co-founder of LeEco, admits to “blindly” speeding ahead into new ventures, from an electric car plant in Nevada to a $2 billion acquisition of California TV maker, Vizio, Inc. Jia released a memo in which he highlighted measures to lessen the company’s burden, including cost-cutting programs, decreasing subsidies for customers, and focusing on existing businesses instead of new ones.

He apologized profusely to shareholders in response to criticism that he hasn’t paid them enough attention. The apology comes at a time in which LeEco’s global strategy was over-extended while capital and resources were limited. Jia pledged to slash his income to 1 yuan (15 cents), slow LeEco’s accelerated pace of expansion, and move the company toward a more moderate phase of growth.

As reported by Bloomberg, Jia wrote in a letter to shareholders that “No company has had such an experience, a simultaneous time in ice and fire,” speaking about LeEco’s growth followed by subsequent issues. “We blindly sped ahead, and our cash demand ballooned. We got over-extended in our global strategy. At the same time, our capital and resources were in fact limited.”

As the founder of Leshi Internet Information & Technology in 2004, which was one of the first companies in China to stream TV shows and movies to paying subscribers, Jia is a self-made billionaire who entered the world of IT working at a local tax bureau.

“No company has had such an experience, a simultaneous time in ice and fire,” Jia explained.

Not exactly, Mr. Jia. Your story is reminiscent to those of us in the know of Elon Musk, the CEO and visionary of Tesla Motors, Inc.

Born in South Africa in 1971, Musk sold his first computer game at age 12. By 2008, he was on the edge of total failure. Tesla hadn’t sold a car, SpaceX had yet to send a rocket to space, a struggle to secure a contract or investors was constant, and the world economy was crashing.

Jia– and let’s admit it, most other people –would probably give up at this point. But Elon Musk persevered.  “When something is important enough,” Musk revealed, “you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

Today, barely a decade old, Tesla is a world-renowned company and brand that receives constant glowing admiration (and, to be fair, its share of criticism). Its market capitalization hovers around $28 billion. Morgan Stanley has called it “the world’s most important car company,” and a leading brand study found that Tesla has joined the ranks of Coca-Cola, Apple and Google to become one of the world’s leading global brands.

Mr. Jia may resolve his fiscal problems and return to the good graces of Chinese investors. He may do so with an electronic prototype of the LeSee, toward which, in September, Jai was able to raise more than $1 billion from a consortium of Chinese investors. Maybe Jai will also take Elon Musk’s  advice.  “Really pay attention to negative feedback and solicit it, particularly from friends. … Hardly anyone does that, and it’s incredibly helpful.”

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