LeEco: Chinese tech firm to debut in US

SAN JOSE (KTVU) -- A huge Chinese tech company is set to make its debut in the United States next week and the company, named LeEco, will bring an assortment of products to American shores.

LeEco, which is Chinese for Joyful City, is known as the Google of China and it makes everything from smart phones, televisions and self-driving autonomous cars.

The firm opened its global headquarters in San Jose last November, hiring 90 percent of its workforce just nine months ago. Executives say the company will launch its products on Oct. 19, 2016 but the product lines have not yet been disclosed.

The company sells tech hardware but at its core it is an online content and service company, connecting all of its devices to its platform.

"What we've been promised for years, but nobody has really put together is this ability to digest content on your TV, have it on your phone when you leave, throw it into your car when you're driving - autonomously, by-the-way," said Chief Administrative Officer Shawn Williams.

Williams said LeEco engineers work together on all platforms so the devices will connect and work together seamlessly.

In China, LeEco is a big deal.

It has competitive smart phones and televisions that sell well throughout Asia. The firm has a live streaming entertainment service similar to Netflix and produces its own Chinese television shows.

It's also a movie production studio. LeVision Pictures is scheduled to release "The Great Wall," starring Matt Damon in December.

AT&T is a partner on its smart bicycle, which has audio speakers and walkie talkie feature.

"There are sensors in the grips that read your heart rate and monitor your routes, it has headlights and tail Williams said.

And LeSee is the new self-driving car. There are only two models currently produced.

The company's expansion into the U.S. raises questions if it can compete with American tech companies such as Apple, Google or Samsung?

TechCrunch editor-at-large Josh Constine doesn't think so.

"Apple is really focused on its smaller set of devices, but making as much profit as possible rather than going for mass market share and cutting its prices," he said. "And Google has so many hands in so many software pots that it really doesn't need to be thinking about all of these other devices."

Google is in fact a partner on some of its devices, which use the Android platform.

Constine is not sure Americans will embrace Chinese devices that appeal to mid-price range consumers. LeEco's smart phones and televisions are said to be significantly cheaper than other products, but Williams said he can't yet reveal how Le Eco keeps its costs low.

While globalization is a big talking point in the US presidential race, Le Eco said its one of the only companies moving from East to West.

"We see ourselves as a disruptor in this space," Williams said.

"Because it costs so much to produce things here, it's just hard to sell them at rates that are competitive as they are overseas," said Constine, who pointed out Le Eco is physically closer to its manufacturers in China and can produce products quickly.

"The future of America is not going to be manufacturing. That's not the future of America. The future of America, I believe, is in software. How do we train these factory workers to be software engineers?"

Le Eco recently purchased 49 acres in Santa Clara from Yahoo! And the company is holding an architectural design competition for its official global headquarters to be completed in 2020.

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