Jia Yueting, the CEO and a co-founder of troubled EV startup Faraday Future, has a notorious history with money. While his rise to fame and fortune in China was built partly around his vision — he started a streaming company in 2004 called LeTV, well before Netflix shifted away from DVDs — it was also built on financial debt. For years, he followed a relatively simple formula. He found success with LeTV, borrowed against that success to try new things under the umbrella of “LeEco,” then borrowed against those ventures to do even more, stacking up debt along the way. With China’s economy booming at the time, and a large shadow banking system emerging that made borrowing easy, he was off to the races. More than a decade later, Jia finds himself living in a mansion — one of a few that he owns, in fact — on the coastal cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes, California. While that might sound like the dream life, Jia isn’t there out of choice. He’s been living there since last summer in self-exile, because that long trail of debt that he built up in China is finally catching up to him. That seems especially true this week, as the LeTV family of companies continued down the path of financial ruin, and a new court case (in the Caribbean, of all places) introduced a potential new threat to his status as the controlling figure of Faraday Future. Jia left China last summer as the walls… [Read full story]
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