It’s been tough to talk about OnePlus as a scrappy smartphone startup ever since its close ties with Oppo, Vivo, and electronics giant BBK came to light, but it’s still hard to overstate the impact of Carl Pei, the longtime public face of the company, who confirmed his departure today. As a marketer and brand builder, he used a combination of bold promises, real talk, and unconventional marketing campaigns to turn smartphone enthusiasts simply looking for a good deal into a community of OnePlus fans.
In a blog post on the OnePlus forums, Pei says he’s “looking forward to taking some time to decompress and catch up with my family,” without addressing why he’s doing so now. Rumors suggest that he had a falling-out with fellow co-founder and CEO Pete Lau, and / or that Pei left to start his own new venture, but his memo doesn’t sound like the words of someone who left for a new job.
Either way, it seems abrupt: Android Central and Android Police reported that he had already left the company as of four days ago, and OnePlus wasn’t prepared to answer questions about where he had gone and why. Perhaps the company simply didn’t want to distract from the new phone it launched on Wednesday: the OnePlus 8T. Pei, meanwhile, led the development of OnePlus’ less expensive recent phone: the Nord.