Faraday Future co-founder resigns amid company turmoil

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Nick Sampson, Faraday Future (FF) co-founder and senior vice president of product strategy, has resigned amid layoffs and the company’s ongoing spat with Chinese investor Evergrande Health.

His departure follows that of Peter Savagian, senior vice president of product and technology development,  who also left the electric vehicle startup this week. Tom Wessner, senior vice president of global supply chain, and Pontus Fonateus, principal of interior design and brand, quit in early October.

Sampson announced his departure on his LinkedIn page on the morning of October 31 (China Standard Time), saying that he made the decision as a result of the “devastating impact” recent events were having on the company’s employees, their families, and the “ripple effect” on its suppliers and the industry.

He said he has “regrettably” left the company with “a heavy heart,” and is “greatly saddened at what is now happening.”

“For me FF was always about the people and the team, that is what comes first in my heart, without them we have nothing,” he wrote.

Faraday Future has been embroiled in a nasty battle with Evergrande Health Industry Group, which owns 45% of the company and runs its Chinese operations. The spat and the company’s financial woes have had a mounting effect on its employees.

Jia Yueting, Faraday Future co-founder and CEO—who is himself facing scrutiny in China due to the debts owed by his company LeEco—sought arbitration in Hong Kong to cancel the $2 billion investment deal with the Evergrande subsidiary, claiming it had not upheld its end of the investment deal.

Evergrande hit back saying that Jia was looking to cancel the deal after the company had spent an initial investment amount of $800 million. Evergrande was expected to pay the balance in equal portions in 2019 and 2020. The company also accused Jia and FF of using their majority control of the board to “manipulate it.”

Instead of easing the conflict, the result of the arbitration only caused more friction. Faraday Future claimed a “decisive victory” over Evergrande after it was ruled that the company could seek outside investment. However, Evergrande said the statement was “misleading.” The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre ruled that FF could seek future financing without Evergrande’s permission under strict conditions.

In the midst of the conflict between the two companies, FF’s employees have faced late salary payments. More than 60 of the company’s Chinese employees did not get paid on time earlier this month. The company also announced that would be laying off employees and cutting pay by 20%.