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Chinese court acts against founder of ambitious LeEco

It seizes assets of Jia Yueting, who resigned as CEO earlier this year from the company that once saw itself as a mashup of Apple, Tesla and more.


Things were looking up for LeEco in October 2016 when it made its US debut.

James Martin/CNET

The dream continues to crumble for Jia Yueting.

Jia is the founder of Beijing-based LeEco, an upstart that not so long ago presented itself as a bold mashup of tech giants from Apple to Tesla. But over the past year, things have take turns for the worse. 

In April, LeEco had to back down from its plans to acquire TV maker Vizio for $2 billion and reportedly had stalled payments to US employees. A month later, Jia stepped down as CEO.

Now a court in China has seized Jia's assets, to the tune so far of 1.3 million yuan (nearly $200,000), Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing a statement in Chinese on the court's website. Other assets may yet face action from the Beijing court, which is responding to a company that says Jia owes it more than 200 million yuan, Bloomberg said.

Meanwhile, Chinese regulators have ordered Jia, whose whereabouts are unclear, to return to China, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. "The company controlled by you owes a staggering amount of debt to the listed company," the China Securities Regulatory Commission said, according to the Journal. "The social impact is extremely bad."

It's a far cry from future that LeEco laid out in October 2016, when the company unveiled plans to expand into the US market. It showed off an all-things-to-all-people list of products, including smartphones, TVs, a VR headset and a self-driving car, and it set a goal of tying all those items together. As Jia wrote at the time: "It isn't simply about the content or the hardware, it is about the full experience."

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