Xiaomi Confirms Eye-Popping $1.1 Billion Financing Round

Xiaomi confirmed a $1.1 billion funding round that catapulted the upstart mobile device maker to a stratospheric $46 billion valuation.

DH Kass, Senior Contributing Blogger

December 30, 2014

3 Min Read
Lei Jun Xiaomi founder
Lei Jun, Xiaomi founder

Just about 15 months ago, Hugo Barra, Google’s (GOOG) former Android vice president, surprisingly jumped ship to Xiaomi, at the time a little-known Chinese smartphone startup, saying in a blog post that he wanted to “help them expand their incredible product portfolio and business globally.”

Apparently, Barra knew what he was doing.

Last week reports circulated that Xiaomi had closed a whopping $1.1 billion funding round, and this week Xiaomi founder Lei Jun, writing in a microblog post, confirmed the buzz, posting that the “round of funding is an affirmation of Xiaomi’s achievements in more than four years of business and a prelude to a new stage of development.”

“Xiaomi will assume we are starting from scratch, and continue working towards our dream to let everyone globally enjoy a better life through technology,” Lei wrote, in a translation provided by Re/code. “Our goal is always to pursue high quality, high performance products with good user experience. Xiaomi will launch some heavyweight flagship products in January 2015 to show gratitude to the fans, partners and investors who have been supporting us.”

Investors include All-Stars Investment Ltd., a fund run by former Morgan Stanley technology analyst Richard Ji, Russian investment firm DST Global, Singapore fund GIC Pte. Ltd., and Yunfeng Capital, a private equity firm associated with Alibaba.

The capital infusion gives Xiaomi a stratospheric valuation of $46 billion, exceeding Uber’s $41 billion market value and higher than any other venture capital backed startups. The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook (FB) reached a $50 billion valuation in 2011 after a financing round from private investors.

Xiaomi’s meteoric climb in China has been accomplished in but four years, as the company’s online only sales model for low-priced handsets, apps and services has catapulted it over mobile device stalwart Samsung to the head of China’s smartphone market. There’s some irony there, in that Samsung seemingly came out of nowhere to overtake Apple (AAPL) for smartphone supremacy in a similar amount of time.

According to researcher IDC’s Q3 2014 figures, the worldwide smartphone market rose some 25.2 percent, driven by sales in emerging markets led by Xiaomi, which rode its Mi4 model to a 211 percent year-over-year spike in unit shipments. Researcher Kantar Worldpanel Comtech’s figures show Xiaomi taking over as the leading smartphone maker in China with a 30.3 percent share of the market, followed by Samsung with an 18.4 percent stake. Xiaomi said it shipped 18 million smartphone units in Q3 2014 and a total of 44 million units for the first nine months of this year.

Now it will be telling to see how Xiaomi performs. There’s chatter the vendor is poised to significantly add to its product portfolio in January, possibly including a refresh of its Mi flagship smartphone, or perhaps a 5.5-inch Mi4S phablet upgrade or a new version of its low-cost RedMi Note. Additional buzz surrounds a possible new tablet as a successor to its Mi Pad.

There’s also been picture and spec leaks on a rumored Xiaomi notebook, said to run on an Intel (INTC) Haswell i7-4500u processor and feature a tailored version of Linux and a 15-inch 1080p display.

It will be interesting to see how Xiaomi performs now that it no longer can go about its business relatively unnoticed.

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About the Author(s)

DH Kass

Senior Contributing Blogger, The VAR Guy

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