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Carl Pei: The Millionaire Who Owns Nothing

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He left a billion-dollar company for Nothing.


Just like techies like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, Carl Pei dropped out of school to pursue his passion in the tech world. In 2011, Pei dropped out of the Stockholm School of Economics after studying for three years to delve into the world of Chinese smartphones.

He had a three-month stint with Nokia in 2010. In 2011, he joined Meizu’s marketing team after he had created a fan website that caught the company’s attention. He would later leave Meizu in November 2012 to join Oppo—where he met Pete Lau. And together, they founded OnePlus in December 2013.

OnePlus’s first device, the OnePlus One, surpassed its sales target by over 1000 percent. The company targeted selling 50,000 units but eventually sold almost a million units. In 2015, Pei launched the OnePlus 2 in a unique way: he presented the new product to the world through a virtual reality video on YouTube—a video with 297,000 views at present.

Carl Pei Tech Crunch

However, despite the success of OnePlus, Pei left the company in 2020 . . . for Nothing.

Here, Nothing does not mean zero. It is Pei’s new venture; one which he describes as a consumer technology company. The company, which plans to release its first “smart devices” in the first half of 2021, has already attracted investors like iPod inventor Tony Fadell, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin.

Image Credit: Nothing

According to Pei, Nothing has a mission “to remove barriers between people and technology to create a seamless digital future.”

Nothing recently acquired Essential, the smartphone company launched by Andy Rubin, the co-creator of Android.

For Carl Pei, “the best technology is beautiful, yet natural and intuitive to use. When sufficiently advanced, it should fade into the background and feel like nothing."


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