OnePlus, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, is reportedly seeking investments from Silicon Valley with an eye to doubling its workforce to 1,500 by the end of 2015. Carl Pei, one of the co-founders of the company, revealed that he’s already in talks with venture capitalists in the Bay area about an investment which will allow his company to be able to expand beyond the single product that currently defines their portfolio – the much talked about OnePlus One. Released in 2014 by OnePlus, the OnePlus One is a powerful flagship smartphone that costs about half as much as flagship devices from from established manufacturers like Apple and Samsung with similar hardware specifications. Aided by innovative marketing which helped generate significant interest in the product, OnePlus has thus far managed to sell over one million devices in just over a year and a half of their existence.
Now that they want to expand their product portfolio, Pei says that they’d need outside investment as “we lack the experience to help us grow one step further, so we are actually in talks with VCs in the Valley. The most important part is access to experience and senior-level talent that will help us scale further”. However he refused to be drawn into any discussion on the specifics of any impending deal and said nothing about the quantum of investment he’s seeking or the valuation his company would have as and when the deal(s) goes though. OnePlus’ plans come at a time when most of their peers – Xiaomi, Gionee, Oppo etc. are looking to expand beyond their national borders. Xiaomi, another young Chinese startup has recently been valued at around $45 billion.
As for their consumer oriented plans, company CEO Mr. Peter Lau said that they hope to sell around 5 million smartphones in 2015 and double that to around 10 million in 2016. However, he expects most of the growth to come from outside of mainland China, revealing that two-thirds of their sales came from overseas markets in 2014. The company plans to come out with two new products in 2015. OnePlus Two, which will be the successor to the aforementioned OnePlus One, is slated to be released in Q3,2015 according to Lau and a budget smartphone is apparently also in the pipelines to be launched before the end of the year. The company had also recently announced their Android based “Oxygen OS”, foregoing CyanogenMod that was found in the One.
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