A month ago, EV start-up Faraday Future (FF) officially announced that Jia Yueting, founder of the company, would resign as CEO and be replaced by BMW veteran Carsten Breitfeld. Jia assumed the position of the Chief Chief Product & User Officer.
On October 14, reporters from Chinese media 21Tech met with the new global CEO, Carsten Breitfeld, in FF’s Beijing office to discuss his vision for the company and Jia Yueting’s bankruptcy announcement.
When talking about Jia Yueting, who recently filed for bankruptcy, Breitfeld said, “From a personal point of view, I have known Jia Yueting for a long time. I think he is not only a far-sighted person, but also a very responsible person. He applied for personal bankruptcy and reorganization to solve his personal debt problems and reduce the impact of these debts on the company.”
Last year, FF and Evergrande Group, one of the start-up’s lead investors, clashed in a dispute over Jia Yueting’s control of the company. At that time, although Jia Yueting had been willing to hand over his FF stake to a third party, he was still retaining control over the company. That created obstacles to the financing of FF, especially in the Chinese market.
Now, as Jia Yueting is going through bankruptcy procedures, FF shares and related income rights held by Jia are being transferred to creditors. This will allow the company to build a partner system.
In fact, Jia Yueting began planning the partner system of FF at the end of last year. In November 2018, Jia said at an internal strategy meeting that FF would be implementing a global partner plan.
Breitfeld told 21Tech that the current FF partner system is in the first stage, and is mainly composed of FF executives. In the next stage, more FF employees and some outsiders who meet the conditions could also become partners. “Partners have a lot of power in the company, they can assign board members, they can decide where the company is going, and so on,” said Breitfeld.
When asked if this meant that the actual control of FF was no longer in the hands of Jia Yueting, but instead turned over to the entire partner committee, Breitfeld answered “yes”.
Carsten Breitfeld is a veteran of the automobile industry. Prior to joining FF, he served as the chairman and chief executive officer of a Chinese electric car startup Baiton. He has also worked for BMW for nearly 20 years and served as vice president of BMW Group, leading the i8 project.