Six top staffers have left the Chinese-backed, Silicon Valley-based startup car company Faraday Future in recent months, the automaker confirmed to Jalopnik following an inside tip. The alleged reason for their departures does not look great for the mysterious company attempting to make a billion-dollar foothold here in America.
A number of people in top positions in Legal, Finance, Strategy, Public Relations and Governmental Affairs at Faraday Future have all left the company over the past two to three months. They are:
- James Chen - General Counsel and VP Governmental Affairs
- David Wisneiski - Finance Director
- Syed Rahman - Operations Controller
- Robert Filipovic - Head of Product Strategy
- Stacy Morris - Head of Public Relations
- Sarah Ashton - Associate Director Governmental Affairs
A quick LinkedIn search only confirms that Rob Filipovic, Stacy Morris and Sarah Ashton are gone. They all list new employers. Faraday Future, however, confirmed all of the other departures.
In a statement FF noted other recent hires, saying they are not necessarily replacements for the six who left but new hires in senior level positions nonetheless:
The EV market is very competitive, vying for a finite supply of quality people. We are proud to say that we are growing quickly and have retained talent with experience from established OEMs, including premium brands including Lamborghini, Jaguar, Porsche and Ferrari, as well as from EV companies. We recently announced several significant senior hires including Bill Strickland, Bart Nabbe, Greg Ryslik, Jin Kim, Joe Zbegner for leadership roles across the company.
Just as we have secured amazing talent, so have other companies from the substantial FF pool of over 1,000 highly qualified individuals. We can confirm that the people you named have left Faraday Future, many of them 2-3 months ago, to pursue other interests. However, Faraday Future’s turnover is extremely low compared to the industry standard.
As always, we are focused on our aggressive growth goals and path towards launching our first production vehicle.
Jalopnik has reached out to all of the departed staffers for comment; they either have not replied or declined to comment on the record.
FF is backed by investor Jia Yueting, who is the owner of LeEco, a video-sharing service dubbed the Chinese Netflix. Faraday Future was his first venture into the automotive sector, though now LeEco has another self-titled automotive brand as well. Both promise electric and autonomous vehicles, the likes of which can compete with Tesla and more established automakers.
Both operate out of California, and both have struggled to meet the lofty goals set by Jia. LeEco’s car failed to make it physically on stage for its U.S. debut, and Faraday Future’s construction company recently revealed that FF is $21 million late on payments for its massive, billion-dollar factory getting built in Nevada.
These are only the most recent setbacks. Faraday Future is best known for promising to show a new car at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in January and only debuted a non-functioning, rocket-like concept car. Was this a deliberate decision? Not according to one former executive, who claimed the company missed its deadlines on its production car and had to drop $2 million scrambling to put the non-running dream car together. If missing deadlines are a thing, at least Faraday Future is fitting in over in the automotive side of Silicon Valley.
Another odd episode in Faraday Future’s public persona; at LeEco’s recent press launch, Jia asked his representative from Faraday Future if he could break some new information about his brand. Jia then told the audience that Faraday Future asked him not to, but he did anyway, and said that Faraday Future would finally debut their actual production car at this upcoming CES in January 2017.
This all supports reporting earlier this year by The Guardian that the American staff at Faraday Future has clashed with its Chinese backers, making operations difficult:
The companies suffered cultural clashes from the outset. At one point, LeTV managers proposed calling the new company Fara Faro instead of Faraday Future. “The Americans were like, ‘That is the stupidest name ever,’” remembers an executive. “You had an international team that was experienced and open, juxtaposed with Chinese management that didn’t understand the US market and kept deferring to LeTV.”
Faraday Future has taken hundreds of millions in state incentives from Nevada and wants millions more in credits from California. While Faraday Future seems to have made good hires involved in serious work, the company has had extremely little to show for all of their hype, and these allegations claim there is little financially to back it up.
Whatever the reason for these executives’ departures, Faraday Future is making things increasingly clear that starting up a new car company is extremely tough business, that it’s a difficult mature industry to disrupt no matter how easy it all sounds in Silicon Valley speeches.
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