The 21st Century will be earmarked forever by the evolution of mobile phones. Mobile phones paved way for several innovations and inventions that changed the way we function, that too for good. The transformation from black and white cellphones to smart devices is an intriguing one. Present day smart phones are no less than a Swiss knife; a user can surf the Internet, make a video call, transfer files, play HD games, and keep oneself busy through countless apps. Social media and general digital presence would be non-existent with mobile apps. Apple initiated the smartphone revolution, numerous competitors followed—prominent ones being Samsung, Nokia, One Plus, Vivo, Motorola. But when it comes to affordability and user-friendliness, Xiaomi tops the charts.
Today, MI by Xiaomi is a household name that spans across mobile phones, televisions, earphones, laptops, bags, trimmers and what not! Lei Jun, the Steve Jobs of China, is instrumental in Xiaomi’s powerhouse presence.
Lei Jun's Education & Struggles
Life was never easy for Lei. The instances of pain and suffering are enough content for publishing a book! A true entrepreneur that he is, Lei never cratered in front of obstacles and pulled off stuff people would consider daunting. He was born in the city of Xiantao, China. Most of his childhood was plagued with rough phases growing up near the industrial city of Wuhan. Lei went on to pursue his BA in computer science from Wuhan University in 1991. After graduation, he had only one aim—serving the world through his learning.
Creating An Empire
Lei was inspired as an undergraduate by Steve Jobs and mesmerized by works on the Apple co-founder. He wanted to build his own business and wanted to wrap college quickly to devote all his time on his venture. This marked the beginning of Lei’s journey and a change in the world of smartphones.
After graduation, Lei joined Kingsoft, a Chinese software company. He worked there as an engineer in 1992. Within no time, he became the CEO of the company through sheer skill and determination. During his time with the company, he founded Joyo.com. This was an online bookstore and got acquired by Amazon.com for $75 million in 2004. Lei also invested in successful startup companies like YY and UC at the start of this decade. He oversaw a total of 70 funding rounds for his company as well.
After spending 16 years with the software company, Lei resigned as the CEO due to health reasons and became the Vice Chairman at Kingsoft. After a few days, he announced his investment in Vancl.com and UCWeb. Lei then became the Chairman of UCWeb. Today, UCweb browser has been acquired by Alibaba and serves over 500 million active users. In 2010, he went on to pursue his passion and founded Xiaomi Inc.
Lei Jun wanted a piece of the fast-growing smartphone industry, and introduced Xiaomi Inc. But to grow quick, he needed a team. He turned to Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, for help.
Lei received hefty funding from the Hong Kong billionaire Chan. Chan controlled Hang Lung Properties that backed Morningside Ventures and was a regular investor in Lei’s company for many years. Apart from Chan, Lei also received funds from Qiming Ceyuan and IDG Capital Partners. Xiaomi through its eight co-founders was launched on 6th April 2010. After an aggressive phase of hard work, Xiaomi launched its first Android-based firmware named ‘MIUI’. In 2011, the company launched its first smartphone, Xiaomi Mi1 which was followed by Mi2.
Mi1 was well received and that meant the next version of the smartphone came with more sophisticated features. With the help of Mobicity, the company went on to capture the technology market in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and many more. In 2013, the company launched its Smart TV line.
With a family of 8,000 employees and over $2 billion in revenue, Xiaomi has significant presence in China, Malaysia, India, Philippines, and Brazil.
Presently, Xiaomi has invested in 20 startups and plans to help more than 100 companies in growing. Xiaomi has raised a total of $45 billion in 6 rounds of funding. The big names in the investors group are Ratan Tata, DST Global, Qualcomm Ventures, and Temasek Holdings. Lei Jun's net worth is $10.5 billion as of 12th March,2020.
A Heavyweight Entrepreneur
Lei Jun is one of those select individuals who have revolutionized the smartphone industry. Xiaomi within three years became the 4thlargest company in China and has successfully dominated the software industry. Lei is one of the best businesspersons today. In 1999, 2000, and 2002, he was a member of the Top IT figures, and China Central Television named him as one of the top Business Leaders of 2012. Lei is widely known as “Steve Jobs” in China for his contribution to the development of smartphones. His entrepreneurial undertaking reaped benefits for China. Xiaomi supports the livelihood of many and has enabled the middle-class section of society to own a smartphone.