Carl Pei: Life and journey of the man behind Nothing
Nothing just launched its maiden smartphone as a way to reinvigorate the smartphone industry. The man of the hour is none other than Carl Pei, the CEO and co-founder of Nothing. From Nokia to Nothing and from a college dropout to a successful entrepreneur, he has seen it all. Let's take a look at the story of a person who dreamt of revolutionizing smartphones.
Born on September 11, 1989 in Beijing, China, Pei later move to the US with his family. The family then moved to Sweden where he grew up. He enrolled in the Stockholm School of Economics' Bachelor of Science program in 2008. However, he left it unfinished in 2011 to pursue his dream of working in the Chinese smartphone industry.
Pei's career began with Nokia in 2010. His time at the Finnish company was short-lived though. In 2011, he joined Meizu after the company's Hong Kong branch noticed the fan website he created. He later joined OPPO in the same year. Pei worked under Pete Lau as the International Market Manager for OPPO. Lau and Pei later partnered up to create OnePlus.
Pei's career at the forefront of the smartphone industry began in 2013 when he joined hands with Lau to co-found OnePlus. He took the position as the company's Global Director. At the time, Pei was only 24 years old. The company's first phone, the OnePlus One, sold over one million units — a lot more than the 50,000 units Pei and Lau had targeted.
Pei's time in OnePlus was a resounding success. In 2015, he presented the OnePlus 2 through a virtual reality video, marking the world's first VR product launch. OnePlus soon became a household name as it challenged its peers with competitive pricing. Pei was in charge of the design and marketing of the company's most successful smartphones until he called it quits in 2020.
Pei's resignation from OnePlus surprised everyone as it was not clear why he left the company. In his goodbye memo, he said, "I've never regretted trusting my gut feeling, and this time it's no different. These past years, OnePlus has been my singular focus, and everything else has had to take a backseat."
In January 2021, Pei announced that he is going to start another company dubbed 'Nothing.' He said that Nothing would remove the barriers between people and technology. Based in London, the company launched its first product, the ear (1) truly wireless earphones, in 2021. The unique transparent design of the ear (1) made it an instant hit and it has sold over 560,000 units.
On March 23, 2022, Pei announced Nothing's first smartphone. It was meant to shake up the smartphone industry which has been lacking uniqueness for a while. The Nothing Phone (1) was finally launched on July 12, 2022. Its quirky design and the company's attention to getting the basics right may get Pei his wish - make people excited about smartphones again.
In 2016, Pei was included in Forbes magazine's '30 Under 30' list for consumer technology. He was also part of Marketing Week's 'Vision 100' list in the same year. In 2019, he was recognized in Fortune magazine's 40 Under 40 list.