CHINA’S new breed of web giants are starting to make a mark overseas. LeEco is paying US$2bil to buy US TV-maker Vizio, a company that sells its products in Costco and Wal-Mart stores.
Little known outside China, LeEco is part of a tech group led by Jia Yueting who is looking to take on Netflix, Apple and Tesla all at once.
The 43-year-old’s sprawling group includes the Shenzhen-listed Leshi Internet Information & Technology, a US$14bil TV and smartphone-maker that also operates a Netflix-like video streaming platform. Leshi sells TVs and set-top boxes to viewers and then charges them to access premium content.
Jia is betting Vizio will give him a foothold in the US where he can replicate the same strategy.
Jia’s ambitions extend further. He has been pushing into movie production as well as sports media. And in April, LeEco unveiled an electric concept super car, a rival to Tesla’s Model S.
“People questioned our idea, a small IT company building a car to compete with the BMWs and Teslas of the world, and laughed at us,” Jia said in an interview at the time, “It wasn’t easy, but here we are.”
The dominance of domestic rivals back home may have forced LeEco to venture overseas. Jia has spoken out against the country’s tech giants — Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent — comparing them to mountains that overshadow the country’s startups.
The entrepreneur has even suggested that the BAT trio have peaked, according to local media.
LeEco’s cross-border ambitions make it stand apart from better-known Chinese tech groups. Another example of this new emerging breed that have their sights set on expanding abroad is Qihoo 360, the antivirus and software maker.
It was part of a consortium that recently failed to buy the Norwegian company behind the Opera browser, a competitor to Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome browsers. Success for these companies is uncertain but expect to hear more from China’s web giants in waiting. — Reuters