Following reports that Faraday Future has stopped construction of its $1 billion North Las Vegas factory, Chinese billionaire Jia Yeuting who backed the company has secured $600 million to support his other electric vehicle company, LeEco, after the company expressed financial woes last month. The source of financing is reportedly from personal investments through Jia’s classmates at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing.
Yueting has created a bewildering array of companies. He started out with LeShi, popularly known as “the Chinese Netflix.” That company made several fortunes selling electronic devices like televisions and cell phones in China. It also produced streaming content for people to watch through the company’s set of new digital devices.
When Jia decided to venture into the electric car business, he pivoted the company and formed LeEco in China. That company has been showing off a concept car entitled LeSee — a large four door luxury sedan similar to the Model S. The prototype made an appearance at a splashy event in San Francisco last October but the self-driving concept car refused to function properly and failed to dutifully follow Jia down a runway to the stage.
Jia also created Faraday Future, the company that stunned the automotive world by introducing a 1,000 horsepower single seat supercar that looked more like a jet fighter than a car at the CES show last January. Since then, there have been reports of test mules spotted on the streets of Los Angeles where the company’s headquarters is based. Earlier this month, Faraday Future showed glimpses of what is says will be its first production car through a series of cut-scenes of the vehicle driving along a track.
Jia has also invested heavily in San Francisco startup Atieva. That company has been bragging that its powertrain is superior to anything else out there. There is a video of a Mercedes van dubbed Edna out drag racing a Tesla Model S and a Ferrari. Atieva recently changed its name to Lucid. It purports to be working on an all new large luxury sedan to rival the Model S. The company may be owned by Jia, but is headed by Peter Rawlinson, a former lead engineer at Tesla who was heavily involved in the development of the Model S.
Le.com, a digital platform for television and activities, LeMall.com, a web shop with LE-branded electronics, LeCloud cloud computing, LeEco Microcredit internet finance, and LeAuto, a connected car system are other ventures backed by Jia.
In a letter to shareholders recently, Jia admitted to “blindly speeding ahead” into new ventures. That seems a bit of an understatement. The question now is whether the new financing will be used to shore up his core businesses that actually makes money or be thrown into the money pit known as the car business? And how this will impact the future of Faraday Future is anyone’s guess.
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