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With LeEco gone, employees, vendors cry hoarse
Billed as a “true disrupter” in the Indian smartphone market last year, Chinese internet and technology conglomerate LeEco has vanished into thin air within months, leaving behind vendors with hefty unpaid bills and employees their dues.
After laying off a substantial number of employees – as many as 85 per cent staff across the sales, marketing and distribution departments since December – the company said in March that it does not have any plans to exit from India. It also said the “resource head count in India is well aligned to the scale of operations envisioned and in line with industry benchmarks”.
But the ground reality is strikingly different. Reduced to a staff of 30 from 480, LeEco, which had a huge marketing spend, is today nowhere to be seen – not on billboards, TVs or in newspapers. There are just eight or nine junior-level staff working at its Gurgaon office while the rest are in Bengaluru and other places.
There is no senior-level person after Atul Jain, Chief Operating Officer (Smart Electronics Business), and Debashish Ghosh, Chief Operating Officer for Internet Applications, Services and Content, left the company. The left-over operation in India is now being handled from the company’s Beijing headquarters.
Moreover, the company is yet to settle huge vendor bills and has held back full-and-final settlements of some of its employees. An email regarding this, sent to LeEco’s India communication head Ravi Bansal, did not elicit a reply.
One such former senior employee said: “We have been waiting for final settlements for quite some time now. The message here is how unethical, partisan and whimsical HR practices at LeEco have contributed considerably to the mess, misery and distress to a number of employees.”
According to laid-off employees, the company asked them to leave in a phased manner, beginning December, and “paid those immediately who either were influential in their own respective fields of work or threatened to take the legal recourse against the company”. Vendors also have sorry tales to share. “I have close to Rs 5 lakh due to be paid for the work I did for LeEco. I have no idea when will I get my money back,” owner of a PR consulting firm said.