The past and future CEO

From online celebrity to trendy gadget CEO to bankruptcy and back again.

Luo Yonghao, best known as the founder of failed smartphone maker Smartisan, is lining up for another spin on the wheel of fortune. He announced on Sunday that he plans to quit all social media to focus on a new device company that will develop augmented reality products.

“The past 13 years have passed in the blink of an eye, and I will officially quit all social media platforms and immerse myself in a business again,” Luo wrote in a post. Weibo post Sunday with a screenshot of his first post written in 2009. On Monday he job a letter and an interview with the national media LatePost in which he describes his plans.

In 2012, Luo founded Smartisan Technology, releasing several smartphones, a custom Android-based operating system, and a messaging app called Bullet Message over the next six years.

The brand impressed critics and won fans for its style and innovations, but Luo failed to keep pace with a competitive market and the company suffered serious financial problems between 2018 and 2019, failing to pay its suppliers. In November 2019, Luo said local media that his company owed more than 600 million yuan ($89 million) to the top, and that he was placed on a “consumer blacklist” by a local court in Jiangsu, barring him from buying many products from luxury. In China, top corporate executives can be held liable if their company fails to repay its debts.

After several attempts in other areas of activity, Luo returns to his original product: his own personality. It was widely mocked for pivoting to live streaming, seen as not a serious industry, but Luo made headlines with his successful debut on short video platform Douyin in April 2020. collect more than 48 million views in three hours, a record for the time.

“I am not disappointed in myself as I am trying in every way to clear the debt, and earning honest money as a live streamer,” Luo said in a post. Weibo post after his new career change. Over the past three years, Luo’s Douyin account has hosted nearly 200 live broadcasts and helped customers achieve 937 million yuan in sales, according to the Xindou short video database.

But the 50-year-old entrepreneur still sees himself as an appliance manufacturer. On Monday, he said he would quit his online profile to focus on a new business. In an interview with LatePost on Monday, he said the new company will focus on developing augmented reality hardware over the next three to five years and wait for the market to mature before trying a consumer product.

Luo told LatePost that he was close to paying off his debts. He expects the debts to be settled by November.

Luo wrote last October on Weibo that he would start a new business “immediately” after all debts are paid.

Luo’s social media activity will outlive her personal profiles. staff said national media that Luo will still show up in the livestream room as a guest, and he intends to continue working as an advertising spokesperson to pay off his remaining debts and fund his new business.

Luo’s exit sparked widespread discussion on social media, with his fans lamenting the farewell and wishing him luck in his position.

“It’s sad that he’s leaving because I had so much fun with what he said,” Zhang, a 25-year-old smartphone enthusiast, told Sixth Tone, “but it’s good to see him. return to where he truly belongs.

Publisher: David Cohen.

(Header image: Luo Yonghao during a live broadcast. IC)

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