Co-founder Carl Pei is leaving OnePlus and seems to want to start his own company

Carl Pei, who co-founded the smartphone brand OnePlus with Pete Lau in 2013, has left the company. This is evident from internal emails and various sources within OnePlus. Pei now seems to want to start his own company.

In the news: The ways of OnePlus and Carl Pei seem to part after nine years.

  • The news of Pei’s departure from OnePlus first appeared on Reddit. There someone shared an internal email explaining the company structure. Strangely enough, Carl Pei’s list was out of the question.
  • Later, the Android Central website confirmed the news based on multiple independent sources close to the company.
  • OnePlus itself does not want to respond for the time being, but does not deny the messages either.

Who is Carl Pei?

Carl Pei, OnePlus Co-Founder – Source: epa
  • Carl Pei (31) was born in China, moved to the United States shortly afterwards and grew up in Sweden.
  • There he studied a Bachelor of Science at the Stockholm School of Economics. However, after barely two years, he dropped out of college and decided to work in the Chinese smartphone industry.
  • Shortly afterwards, the then barely 23-year-old Lei contacted Pete Lau, who then worked at the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Oppo. “He said,” I want to change the world. “I thought this boy had ambitious thoughts and dreams. It came from his heart and that is very important. He’s very persistent, ”Lau recalled in an interview in 2015.

What was Carl Pei’s role at OnePlus?

Pete Lau OnePlus
Pete Lau, CEO and Co-Founder of OnePlus – Source: Isopix
  • Carl Pei and Pete Lau left Oppo at the end of 2013 to co-found OnePlus. Their goal was to make a smartphone with a good balance between high-end quality and a lower price.
    • Oppo later turned out to be the sole shareholder of OnePlus, although the founders deny that they are a subdivision.
  • Although Lau is CEO, Pei has often been the face of the company outside of China. One of the big reasons for this is of course the fact that his English is much better than Lau’s.
  • Carl Pei is also said to have been the man responsible for the successful marketing strategies that helped OnePlus grow from a small start-up in record time to one of the most highly regarded smartphone brands in the world.
    • As their production capabilities for the first model OnePlus One were limited in 2014, the company decided to work with invites. At the time, this created such a big hype that eventually sold nearly 1 million OnePlus One’s, a multiple of the expected 50,000 copies.
    • Later, OnePlus had a lot of other smart marketing techniques. For example, there was once an action where people had to destroy their current phones in order to buy a new OnePlus smartphone.
  • In those early years, Pei himself always lived in cheap hotels in China and India. In his own words, he wanted to understand the market better and travel faster. “What we lacked in experience, we made up for in working hours,” he said.
  • As of this year, Carl Pei has been responsible for the OnePlus Nord products. The first model of those cheaper smartphones was presented this summer. Soon there will be two models with the OnePlus Nord N10 and N100 that will also be launched on the American market.
    • With this new product line, OnePlus wants to regain some of the market share that it has lost in recent years. The company abandoned its ideology of making smartphones in the middle segment and launched increasingly expensive models. OnePlus Nord should be a return to that market of cheaper smartphones.

What does his departure mean for OnePlus?

  • Since Carl Pei’s departure has not yet been officially confirmed, OnePlus has also not given a reason yet. According to various sources, an internal power struggle with CEO Pete Lau is the basis. In recent years, this has become increasingly prominent, also outside China.
  • Still, it seems obvious that Carl Pei’s departure is not planned. His farewell comes at a very unfortunate moment so close to the launch of the One Plus Nord smartphones.
  • The internal emails show that Emily Dai has been appointed as head of the OnePlus Nord product line. She was in charge of OnePlus India until now. That Indian market is an important sales market for cheaper smartphones. So Dai’s appointment seems a logical and smart choice.
  • For now, Pete Lau himself seems to remain as CEO of OnePlus. Yet that is not entirely certain. At the end of August, it was announced that he had been appointed as Senior Vice President and Chief Product Experience Officer at the parent company of Oppo and OnePlus. In the future, he will therefore be responsible for product development for both brands.

What is Carl Pei going to do now? Carl Pei himself has not yet commented on what his plans are in the future. According to the website TechCrunch, he plans to start his own company. It’s not clear at the moment whether that will target the smartphone market or tech more generally.


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