Thu, 12 Dec 2019

He sold his internet company for billions of dollars and then bet on an electric-vehicle startup, posting about it frequently on social media. He owns shares of Tesla Inc., drives its cars and is building a factory in China.

But he's not Elon Musk.

Instead, Chinese billionaire He Xiaopeng is the target of Musk's ire, and his company, Xpeng Motors, is at the center of separate trade-secrets lawsuits filed by Tesla and Apple. Tesla accused one of its ex-engineers of stealing confidential autopilot information before bolting to a job at XPeng, where He is chairman.

He, 41, called the lawsuit "questionable" in a WeChat post Friday. The accusations came eight months after one of Apple's ex-employees was charged with trying to take sensitive robocar secrets to a new job with XPeng. The Chinese automaker hasn't been accused of wrongdoing by Apple or Tesla.

In a March 12 interview at his Guangzhou campus, which features a three-story slide, He spoke with disdain about workers who steal intellectual property.

Toyota rockets past Elon Musk to put a lunar vehicle on the moon

He cites Xiaomi Corp. Chairman Lei Jun as one of his biggest influences after having invested millions of yuan into the technology company's initial public offering.

If He can make Xpeng a viable EV maker, he's promised to treat himself to an exploration vessel that can break ice and explore the seas with small submarines and landing boats. Before starting Xpeng, he studied the possibility of developing floating island settlements.

"I'm always extremely interested in oceans," said He, who keeps a yacht in Hong Kong. "I can see myself buying a lot of stuff on the sea like boats and equipment."

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