LeEco Lays Off Staff and Will Scale Back its U.S. Presence
LeEco, the Chinese tech conglomerate that began peddling its smartphones and TVs in the U.S. less than a year ago, on Tuesday announced plans to curtail its expansion, laying off hundreds of employees and all but eliminating its English-language marketing.
The job cuts will hit the research and development staff in the company's San Diego office the hardest, Bloomberg reported. Out of a staff of hundreds, only about 50 people will remain, mostly to provide support for current LeEco customers. Although the company did not announce an end to sales of its products in the U.S., it said that future marketing efforts would mostly be limited to the Chinese-speaking community.
"In the past few months, we have gained a large foothold in Chinese-speaking households in the U.S. by offering tailor-made products and content for this community," LeEco told Bloomberg. "We believe this provides us an opportunity to build on our strengths and grow from there."
Scaling back its English-language presence will relegate the company to a niche player in the U.S. market for consumer electronics, especially in the crowded TV and smartphone markets. LeEco once planned to buy TV maker Vizio, but that $2 billion deal fell through last month, with the company blaming "regulatory headwinds."
At a glitzy press conference last year in San Francisco, LeEco's CEO took to the stage to announce the beginning of his company's U.S. expansion, which he said would one day include electric bikes, self-driving cars and virtual reality headsets. But the future of those products could be in doubt even in LeEco's home market of China, with Bloomberg reporting that the entire company will be restructured and that CEO, Jia Yueting, will give up day-to-day control.
Many of LeEco's products, including HDTVs, were still showing as in stock on the company's website as of Tuesday afternoon, so if you're eyeing one, you might want to click fast.