Last April, LeEco heralded the opening of a new Silicon Valley office in San Jose. The new building would be the home of the company’s US operations, with enough space to house up to 800 workers. The Mayor of San Jose was on-hand to help cut the ribbon.
Seventeen months later, the space appears to be a virtual ghost town. The company won’t disclose exact numbers, but did tell TechCrunch that “less than a hundred” LeEco employees currently work at the San Jose office. However a source close to LeEco says the offices are empty, adding there are only a handful of people left in the States that work for LeEco. The number was apparently closer to a couple of hundred employees at its peak.
TechCrunch went to the office to investigate the claims and it was apparent to us the offices were empty and there was no activity.
The source added that many LeEco employees have also left their jobs at the LeEco’s headquarters in Beijing in anticipation of more bad news.
LeEco’s shrinking U.S. presence seems to have progressed at record speed. Last October, it threw a huge party for itself in the San Francisco. The company once known as the “Netflix of China,” was also taking on Apple, Google, Amazon and Tesla all at once here in the States.
But the bad news followed quickly. In February, the company’s plans to buy U.S.-based TV maker Vizio fell through, with a $100 million lawsuit following four months later. In April, LeEco canceled its English language video service, and the following month, the company’s CEO resigned before it laid off 325 people in the U.S. The company wouldn’t disclose what percentage of its total overall US workforce would be impacted, but from the sound it, the company is currently operating with a skeleton crew.
LeEco, for its part, is insistent that it has not abandoned the U.S. market, though the company previously announced a shift in strategy from an all-encompassing approach, to one more focused specifically on Chinese language families living in the States.
Update: Adding to its earlier comments, the company has since offered a followup statement that paints a far rosier picture.
It has come to our attention that TechCrunch has recently published an inaccurate and misleading article regarding our Silicon Valley Office. We’d like to reiterate that LeEco remains an active and viable company after our business restructure earlier this year. Our vision to building an open ecosystem and providing users with the ultimate experience has not been changed. We have gained a large foothold in Chinese-speaking households in the U.S. by offering tailor-made products and content that are optimized for this community and we see a strong momentum to help us grow from there. In the meantime, we’ve on-shored our customer call center to enhance customer experience. We are also shifting from in-house to outsourcing model for some business operations which will allow us to optimize resource and be more focused on accelerating product and service innovation. We’re very focused right now on getting ready for the next phase. Stay tuned for more to be announced in the next few months.