IQIYI’s VR Company in Crisis: Employees Demand CEO Gong Yu for Salaries

Beyond Pico, another extreme in domestic VR – iQiyi’s subsidiary VR company Dream Blossom has been reported to have ceased operations.

Yesterday, several insiders from Dream Blossom revealed to Sina Technology that the company’s business is currently stagnant and over a hundred employees have not been paid. Currently, some employees have been sending private messages to Gong Yu, the CEO of the parent company iQiyi, through internal OA software. However, they are not satisfied with Gong Yu’s response.

Another employee revealed that the salary arrears and business suspension this time were mainly due to the incomplete arrival of the $5568 million C-round financing announced by the company in January, which led to a break in the funding chain.

In January of this year, Dream Blossom announced the completion of Round C financing. This financing was jointly invested by Qingdao Jingkong Group and True Knowledge Capital, with a total investment of $5568 million. According to insiders, this financing is a phased allocation with performance-based clauses. However, Dream Blossom failed to achieve its predetermined sales target and therefore could not obtain the complete financing amount, only receiving tens of millions.

But this statement has not been officially confirmed. Currently, iQiyi and Dream Blossom have also not responded to this matter.

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According to the information provided by the aforementioned employees, the number of people currently in the “Dream Blossom” salary protest team at iQiyi has reached 133, including legal personnel who have already resigned but are still owed wages.

Among them, several “Dream Blossom” employees sent private messages to Gong Yu and received a reply stating, Dream Blossom and iQiyi are separate legal entities. iQiyi has been making every effort to assist Dream Blossom in financing. The management of Dream Blossom is actively seeking solutions to overcome difficulties. Please be patient and rational!

However, some employees still express dissatisfaction with this response. They believe that when the concept of the metaverse was popular, iQiyi often used their company for packaging and external promotion. In addition, iQiyi took the lead in changing management and they also received emails from senior executives at iQiyi. Now that something has happened, they are emphasizing that there are two separate business entities.

According to public information, on December 1, 2021, iQiyi Intelligent officially announced its renaming as “Dream Blossom” and its comprehensive entry into the metaverse. On January 17th of this year, Dream Blossom once again announced its renaming as “Qingdao Dream Blossom Technology Co., Ltd.”, with the company’s headquarters located in Qingdao West Coast New Area. It also announced that it has secured a C-round financing of $5568 million.

In communication with Sina Technology, several employees of “Dreams Blossom” expressed that the $5568 million financing has not been fully received, which may be one of the reasons for the delay in salary payment.

As a domestic VR company, backed by iQiyi‘s online video and technological capabilities, Pico has always been regarded as an important player in the domestic VR brand landscape. In the industry market, it is compared to ByteDance’s “PICO”.

Two years ago, there was a VR “hot trend” both domestically and internationally. The American social media company Facebook announced its rebranding as Meta, while the domestic technology industry focused on the metaverse/XR storm.

But in the past year, there has been a general cooling down in this field.

In November 2022, Meta’s metaverse business unit Reality Labs announced a full-year loss of $13.7 billion, and Mark Zuckerberg announced the layoff of 11,000 employees. Later this year, another 10,000 employees were laid off. In April of this year, Microsoft also announced the dissolution of its newly established industrial metaverse team after only four months.

The cold air of the decline in the overseas metaverse has spread to the domestic market. A group of domestic metaverse and XR manufacturers have successively initiated a cost reduction and efficiency improvement “movement”: On February 16th, PICO was reported to have laid off hundreds of employees, optimizing the ratio by 20% to 30%; at the same time, Tencent Games’ XR business will change its hardware development path, and related business teams will also be adjusted. In addition, Kuaishou has also disbanded its panoramic video business, and Ma Yingwu, the person in charge, has resigned.

As of June 6th this year, with the announcement of Apple’s first MR product, Vision Pro, the long-dormant metaverse field has regained a glimmer of confidence. At that time, some industry insiders predicted that although it is currently facing a downturn, with the official launch of Apple’s Vision Pro next year, the MR industry may gradually move towards a path of confidence.

Unfortunately, the dream of “Dream Blossom” in the metaverse may not withstand this wave of cold spells.