American TV Brand Vizio Acquired by Chinese Company27 Jul, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel
On the surface, the $2 billion acquisition of Vizio by tech conglomerate LeEco would seem to be another American business selling out to China.
But while Vizio is based in Irvine, Calif., it was co-founded in 2002 by Taiwanese-born William Wong, who realized early the advantages of manufacturing LCD televisions, sound bars and related consumer electronics in China.
Vizio has evolved over the years into one of the largest HDTV manufacturers in the U.S., generating $2.9 billion in sales in 2015 and employing more than 400 people — the vast majority domestically.
Under the deal, Vizio’s hardware and software businesses become subsidiaries of LeEco, while Inscape — Vizio’s controversial data business — will be spun off with Wang as CEO. Vizio customer service operations will remain in the United States.
Recently, Vizio — and other manufacturers — came under fire when it was revealed the company’s smart TV could compile user-generated data, including viewer habits.
“Acquiring Vizio is an important step in our globalization strategy and building our North American presence,” Jia Yueting, CEO of LeEco, said in a statement. “From its inception, Vizio introduced a disruptive business model that changed the industry and aligns with our vision of breaking boundaries to deliver consumer-focused products, software and services.”
Disruption has been a benchmark of sorts for LeEco, with Yueting, who has a reported net worth of $3.8 billion, at the helm last year reportedly incorporating Nazi imagery to launch a smartphone and make a statement about Apple.
A post on Yueting’s Chinese Weibo page denounced iOS and Android operating systems with a cartoon of Adolph Hitler wearing an Apple armband and accompanying text in Chinese: "Crowdsourced, freedom vs. arrogance, tyranny."