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LeEco's 2017 plans? Cracking open the brick-and-mortar space in the U.S.

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LeEco’s resolution for the new year is to make its name as recognizable as Apple or Samsung in the United States.

The company, known as the “Netflix of China,” bought TV-maker Vizio last year and made its U.S. debut with a slew of smartphones, TVs, and a streaming service. Soon after, though, LeEco’s founder Yueting Jia sent a letter to his employees saying how he would cut his salary to 15 cents to help sustain the business.

“No company has had such an experience, a simultaneous time in ice and fire,” Jia wrote in the letter. “We blindly sped ahead, and our cash demand ballooned. We got overextended in our global strategy. At the same time, our capital and resources were in fact limited.”

Many assumed this would put LeEco’s expansion plans on hold, but LeEco’s general manager of product marketing, Kenny Mathers, says nothing is changing in the U.S.

“We literally went from having a 2,000 workforce to growing to 10,000 people,” Mathers told Digital Trends at CES 2017. “And so as we got to that point, what [YueTing] was saying is we’re no longer a small startup now — we’re a big company with big resources and we need to be more efficient about how we manage that. And so that was more the spirit of the letter.”

At CES 2017, LeEco launched two smart bikes. If you were hoping for some new phones and TVs, though, you’ll have to wait until the latter half of the year.

“Our focus for the first half of 2017 is really about amplifying our distribution and scale,” Mathers said. “At the start of December we announced that our products were also available in big-box retailers — Best Buy, Target, and Amazon. What you’re going to see in the first half of 2017 is us continuing to expand our distribution footprint so that there’s more brick-and-mortar stores where people can actually go in and they can pick up and see our products firsthand. ”

The Chinese company is also looking to greatly expand its content this year as well, though we may not see the fruits of that labor until 2018. It has already made partnerships with content companies such as MGM and Lionsgate, and LeEco already has established its own production company in the U.S. — Le Vision Entertainment.

“In an ideal world, we’d love to take the content from China and it would just translate — but that’s never going to happen,” he said. “Where we want to get to is that point where there’s enough compelling content coming through our own channel. through partners like Lionsgate and MGM, and content that we’re creating.”

This content, such as movies, could potentially be available on launch day for LeEco subscribers.

Regardless, the company has a solid base of products it wants to market first. LeEco’s also focusing on padding its streaming service with its own content, as well as content from partnerships with MGM and DirecTV Now.

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Julian Chokkattu
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Julian is the mobile and wearables editor at Digital Trends, covering smartphones, fitness trackers, smartwatches, and more…
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