LeEco – Le Crunch.

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Crunch time appears to be fast approaching.

  • The LeEco proposition seems to be quickly unraveling as a flurry of bad news reinforces my view that this company only really has a chance if it dumps automotive.
  • New blows upon the already bruised company include:
    • Vizio: LeEco and Vizio have called off the $2bn acquisition by LeEco stating that regulatory hurdles got in the way.
    • Vizio was supposed to give LeEco a US brand with which to get a toehold in the US market while the Chinese market would become more open to Vizio.
    • I suspect that LeEco was having difficulty getting the money it raised from Sunac (see here) out of China giving it a good reason to back out of an acquisition that now makes less sense given LeEco’s current predicament.
    • 2016 revenues: LeEco appears to have massively missed its 2016 US revenue target but given that it launched in October this is hardly a surprise.
    • It looks like 2016 revenues were just $15m compared to a target of $100m but given the late launch, this target looks to have been way too ambitious.
    • Consequently, I don’t think that this reflects as badly as it would seem on the management of the US operation.
    • Job cuts: LeEco also appears to weighing up more job cuts with 175 of the 475 US workforce expected to be cut.
    • This does not come as a big surprise given the cash crunch that the company admitted to at the end of 2016 and the problems the company is having in getting money out of China.
    • However, growth companies tend not to need job cuts raising questions about the products being offered and the services that come with them.
  • This news comes on the back of abandoning its ambitious plan to build a US HQ with 12,000 employees (see here) and severe pressure being placed upon its automotive strategy.
  • Giving up the acquisition will massively increase cash for investment in the ecosystem but if it remains unable to get money out of China, not much development is likely to happen.
  • I find this situation strange as its competitors, Xiaomi, Baidu, Alibaba and so on all have substantial overseas operations which are most likely to be financed from China.
  • In my view, the biggest issue remains automotive as it has very little to do with the development of an ecosystem and is hugely capital intensive.
  • Apple and even Tesla have found that building cars is a difficult business that requires a lot of time and very deep pockets.
  • Faraday Future clearly needs hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment which LeEco simply cannot afford if it is to have any chance at delivering on its ecosystem ambitions.
  • Hence, I think that LeEco’s best interests will be served by not having this millstone hanging around its neck.
  • I continue to believe that for LeEco to have the best chance of succeeding, it needs to extract itself from Faraday Future and forget about self-driving cars.
  • Building a thriving ecosystem is difficult enough and throwing in cash constraints and management distractions can only make it next to impossible.

2 thoughts on “LeEco – Le Crunch.

  1. OK, so you think they should get out of the automotive category. What categories do you think they should be in?

    Android phones and televisions? When you’ve argued that Google should take Android proprietary, leaving LeEco with nothing to differentiate their product to consumers? What is the LeEco ecosystem you think they should work towards?

    They have a decent offering of content for TV in China, but it’s harder to see how that translates outside of China. The predictive text entry might have value, but it’s the only thing that keeps it from being another Amlogic thing among a sea of them, and it’s probably irrelevant in a world where voice input is the future (e.g. Apple, Amazon, Xiaomi, and Google Home if you pair with Chromecast.)

  2. LeEco’s strategy is to use hardware as the conduit for its software and services. the idea is that these servoces will drive differentiation which can then by monetised through device pricing or by subscription. It is starting with media consumption and then woudl hope to roll out from there. It has a chance if it focuses on this excelusively as it has done this with some success at home. Automotive is a money pit doomed to failure and is highly distratcting.

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