Meet The ‘Chinese Elon Musk’ — A tech Billionaire Who’s taking on Tesla

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Chinese Tech billionaire, Jia Yueting is said to emulate Steve Jobs’ fashion sense and is also known to brag that his company has surpassed Apple in areas including design, craftsmanship, hardware and business models.

His company, Leshi Internet Information & Technology, which is involved in film production, “smart” TVs, video streaming, mobile phones, bicycles and more — has been called the “Netflix of China.”

Now 41-year-old Jia Yueting has earned himself another title, that of the ‘Chinese Elon Musk.’

Jia’s comparison to Musk is justified. Jia’s story sounds like the Chinese doppelgänger to Elon Musk’s. He was a young tech genius and at 41 years old has already taken at least two companies public.

Jia got his first tech job at age 22. According to Bloomberg, he was maintaining the internal network for a taxation office in Shanxi, a coal-producing province in the north of the People’s Republic. Jia’s time in taxation did not last long however, he quit in less than a year to found a tech consultancy.

In 2002, Jia founded a telecom startup, Sinotel Technologies. He took it public in only five years.

Jia’s current venture is Leshi Internet Information & Technology, a maker of web-enabled TVs. He started the buisness back in 2004 and took it public in 2010 – according to Bloomberg his 44 percent stake is worth about $2.3 billion.

Now, his sights are set on succeeding in the auto industry.

Making an electric vehicle “is our dream and passion,” he told Bloomberg. “Look at China’s skies, all responsible corporate citizens want to do something about it. This is the truth.”

Yueting announced his company’s plan for an “electric supercar” last year. At the time, he said they already had a team of more than 200 engineers working on the project in California.

In December, Jia revealed that Leshi had spent the year developing a plan to launch an electric car, one that will directly take on the Model S. His background has given him training in “managing disruptive change,” he said, and so taking on Tesla is well within Leshi’s range.

Jia seems to be getting some assistance from the Chinese government. According to The Motor Report, Beijing is saying it will give car manufacturing licenses to non-automobile companies like Leshi to cut down on China’s notoriously polluted air and encourage homegrown Tesla competitors.

The stakes are high. China remains the largest auto market in the world and despite a 7 per cent slow down in growth in 2014, it continues to get bigger. What is more, an estimated 17 million passenger vehicles were sold there in 2014.

The news of Jia taking on the EV market seems to represent a growing trend amongst the Chinese wealthy elite. Even if Jia’s  model isn’t the success that it is hoped be, there are other companies in China wanting to build EVs. According to Bloomberg, Fisker owner Wanxiang is also applying for a manufacturing license, and it already has ties to the industry as an automotive parts supplier with over $23 billion in annual revenue.

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