Update October 16 — Carl Pei confirms he's leaving OnePlus.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has left the company, Android Central can confirm. Two sources familiar with the situation told AC that Pei left OnePlus in recent weeks, and no longer appears in the most recent OnePlus organizational chart. Pei co-founded OnePlus with CEO Pete Lau in December 2013, the two having previously worked together at Oppo, and grew OnePlus into one of the most recognized smartphone brands for enthusiasts. More recently, Pei has headed up the OnePlus Nord brand, which focused on more affordable handsets.
Our confirmation follows a report from Android Police that Pei had likely departed, citing internal OnePlus memos recently surfaced on Reddit. OnePlus declined to comment to Android Central on this story. After publication of this story, TechCrunch reported that Pei left OnePlus to start his own venture, though did not specify whether it is mobile- or tech-related.
Later this week, OnePlus will take the wraps off its latest high-end handset, the OnePlus 8T, followed by a further two Nord smartphones before the end of the year. Pei's departure in the midst of a major product launch raises questions as to the circumstances of his departure.
Internal memos say Emily Dai, who was previously overseeing the brand's India operations, will now take a lead role at OnePlus Nord.
Carl Pei has, for the past seven years, been a very public face for the company, appearing at product launches and greeting fans and Western media at OnePlus events. While OnePlus now employs some 2,700 people, there's no question the loss of such a high-profile executive will be felt in the next round of OnePlus product launches.
The move comes after rumors of internal power struggles between Pei and current CEO, Pete Lau, who has taken a more public position in the company's events and marketing in recent years. Pei was often presented as the face of the company in the West because of his English fluency, something Lau is still working on.
Pei's departure comes weeks before his latest project, the OnePlus Nord, is expected to arrive in the U.S. in the form of two handsets, the OnePlus Nord N10 and N100, both reinforcing the company's move to aggressively recapture some of the value market share that it lost when its OnePlus flagships increased in cost over the last two years.
It's unclear whether Pei has taken another job somewhere else, but given his extensive experience with building the brand cache of a tiny smartphone maker into one of the most recognizable phone brands in the west, his skills won't likely stay idle for long.
Update, October 16 — Carl Pei confirms on the OnePlus forums that he's leaving the company
After we were able to indepently confirm that Carl Pei had left OnePlus, the company co-founder confirmed the news himself on the official OnePlus forums. His full post reads as follows:
The confirmation comes just two days after OnePlus unveiled the OnePlus 8T.
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Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.