Carl Pei was one of the founders of OnePlus, alongside Pete Lau, and helped turn the company from a little-known "startup" (read: division of OPPO) into one of the most popular Android smartphone brands worldwide. However, Pei has seemingly now left his role at the company after nearly seven years.

The move first came to light by Reddit user JonSigur, who published alleged screenshots of internal memos at OnePlus. The messages listed the company's leadership structure, with Pei notably absent. The memos also noted Emily Dai, who was in charge (or could still be in charge) of OnePlus operations in India, was recently appointed as the head of the Nord product line globally. Pei was previously in charge of Nord, and was prominently featured in the documentary about the phone's development.

Screenshots of internal notices (Source: JonSigur)

We reached out to OnePlus for a statement, and a spokesperson declined to comment. That adds more credibility to the story — if it were false, it would be extremely easy for OnePlus to outright deny it.

OnePlus' other co-founder, Pete Lau, is still at the company and holds the position of CEO. However, he has diverted some of his attention away from OnePlus, as he took on a limited role at its parent company OPPO in August.

Sources say Pei has left

Android Central is reporting from two sources that Pei left the company "in recent weeks" though OnePlus still has yet to make official statements to any specific publication or in its own media.

New venture

TechCrunch now reports that Carl Pei is leaving OnePlus to start "his own venture," citing a source familiar with the matter. No further details are known at this time, and OnePlus has still not made any official announcements about Pei's departure.

Personal announcement

Carl Pei has posted a personal message in the OnePlus Forums, officially confirming he is leaving the company. He thanked CEO Pete Lau for "taking a chance" on him, and also thanked the OnePlus community for "believing in us throughout all these years." His message is embedded below in full.

After nearly 7 years at OnePlus, I’ve made the difficult decision to say goodbye.

I grew up spending tremendous amounts of time on the internet, building products and communities. Seeing that ideas in one’s mind could be turned into reality and impact people’s lives gave me lots of joy, and I knew early on that this was the path for me.

The world didn’t need another smartphone brand in 2013. But we saw ways of doing things better and dreamt of shaking things up. Better products. Built hand in hand with our users. At more reasonable prices. Fast forward to today, and OnePlus is a strong force to be reckoned when it comes to flagship smartphones. And with the new Nord product line, this success will continue into new market segments.

Having just turned 24 when OnePlus started, it’s where I spent most of my 20s, and also where I grew up. From nervously interviewing my first employee, to facing severe stage fright the first time I presented a product, to learning how to manage a team… The journey has been real. The things we’ve accomplished and learned, I can’t begin to imagine a more rewarding adventure.

Our community joined the movement before we even had a product, back when all we had were ambitions and ideas. From having hundreds of you show up to have ice cream with me, thousands attending our launch events, and tens of millions purchasing our products worldwide; I want to thank you all for believing in us throughout all these years.

And the team. The amazing people that I’ve been fortunate to fight side by side with. The friendships I’ve made here are the most precious parts of this journey. With them, the company is in capable hands.

I am eternally grateful to Pete for taking a chance in this kid without a college degree, with nothing to his name but a dream. The trust, mentorship, and camaraderie will never be forgotten. Thanks for the opportunity of a lifetime.

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. I’m looking forward to taking some time off to decompress and catch up with my family and friends. And then follow my heart on to what’s next.

With gratitude,
Carl