Former flexible display unicorn Royole Technology has recently been plunged into a new crisis, after 37 million yuan ($5.3 million) in assets were frozen by a local court. Although details of the case have not been made public, according to documents published at the end of August, the plaintiffs of a service contract dispute case are four well-known public relations and advertising companies.
The four plaintiffs are all related to communications services group BlueFocus. The media firm Blue Impression, advertising firm SNK and Shenzhen BlueFocus are all subsidiaries of Beijing BlueFocus. PR company Merlion Communications is also listed as a sub-brand on the official website of BlueFocus.
Founded in 2012, Royole is known as a pioneer in flexible display screens. In August 2014, the firm released the world’s thinnest color flexible display, with a thickness of just 0.01 mm and a crimp radius of up to 1 mm. Royole’s innovations include the establishment of the world’s first fully flexible display mass production line, the launch and mass production of the world’s first foldable mobile phone FlexPai, and the launch of the industry’s first Micro-LED elastic flexible screen technology.
From its establishment in 2012 to 2020, Royole completed 13 rounds of financing, and its valuation exceeded 50 billion yuan at its peak. However, ever since 2020, it has failed to go public three times. From 2017 to 2019 and the first half of 2020, the cumulative revenue of the company was only 517 million yuan, but the cumulative loss reached 3.195 billion yuan.
Since the end of last year, Royole has been beset with a brand crisis. Unpaid wages, production suspension, and broken capital chains are all destroying public faith in the firm. Royole has been in dispute with employees over labor contracts, sales contracts with suppliers, contracts with construction companies, and service contracts with public relations and advertising companies since 2022. It has been listed as a judgment debtor three times, obliging it to pay about 100 million yuan in fines.