Technology: Companies

LeEco moves further into Silicon Valley, buying Yahoo's Santa Clara property

Haze Fan | Special to CNBC
Joshua McGuire has joined LeEco as VP and general counsel for U.S. legal affairs and intellectual property protection.
LeEco | CNBC

Ambitious Chinese company LeEco has made two big inroads on its push into Silicon Valley, snaffling a senior legal counsel from Google and snapping up Yahoo's property at the center of the U.S. tech hub.

LeEco said this week that it had hired Joshua McGuire as its vice president and general counsel to oversee all of its U.S. legal affairs and intellectual property protection.

McGuire, who spent the past seven years as Google's lead legal counsel for mobile and Android patent strategy, told CNBC he decided to join LeEco - which sells a technology "ecosystem" that ranges from smartphones to electric vehicles (EVs) - because he believed it was different to other tech companies.

"LeEco is committed to fulfilling the broken promises that technology companies have been making for 20 years - promises of a personalized user experience across all of your devices," McGuire said.

McGuire, who was named in 2014 as one of the rising stars in U.S. corporate counsel by "The Legal 500," said that he expected to work on LeEco's expansion through a combination of acquisitions and innovation.

LeEco moves its headquarters closer to Apple
LeEco moves its headquarters closer to Apple

McGuire is the third recent high-profile hiring by LeEco, after it brought Danny Bowman on as chief revenue officer for North America and Shawn Williams as chief administrative officer and senior vice president for human resources in North America. Bowman previously worked as chief sales and operations officer at Samsung's American telecommunications business, while Williams was senior VP of HR at Samsung Electronics America.

LeEco is expected to announce this month that it has poached at least one other senior tech executive from a rival.

Meanwhile, sources at LeEco told CNBC that the company expected to complete a deal this week to buy a near-50-acre undeveloped property in Santa Clara, California, from Yahoo. The sources did not disclose the purchase price, but said the property would be used as LeEco's global research and development headquarters.

The Silicon Valley Business Journal, which reported in April that LeEco was in talks with Yahoo over the site near Levi's Stadium, wrote that the size of the property was a sign of LeEco's huge growth plans, and that a sale would mean a significant cash injection for troubled Yahoo, which last week closed a second round of bids for its core internet business.

In April LeEco opened a new, 80,000-square-foot North American headquarters in San Jose, California, where it intended to house U.S. production of its EVs.

How LeEco is disrupting the auto industry
How LeEco is disrupting the auto industry

LeEco, formerly known as LeTV, was founded by Jia Yueting, a former tech support worker. LeTV gained fame as the "Netflix of China" but now sells products including the self-driving, smart LeSEE supercar.

Jia told CNBC in April that his vision was for a "LeEco ecosystem," in which he sold content such as movies and music to LeSEE drivers. The self-made billionaire has been open about his plan to take on U.S. tech giants such as Apple, calling the Cupertino behemoth's recent product innovations "outdated."

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