China’s leading smartphone maker Xiaomi just celebrated its sixth birthday on Wednesday. The company’s CEO Lei Jun posted a photo of the startup team in 2010 on Sina Weibo, getting many comments from netizens.
“On April 6, 2010, I had a bowl of Xiaomi porridge (millet congee) with a dozen teammates, and then we founded Xiaomi,” Lei wrote.
Those teammates Lei mentioned are the co-founders of Xiaomi: Lin Bin, Li Wanqiang, and Zhou Guangping.
Let’s see what happened when they started and what they are doing in Xiaomi now.
Lin Bin worked in management positions in engineering and R&D for Microsoft China and Google China. He co-founded Xiaomi in 2010, and has been its president ever since.
Li Wanqiang was a former senior executive of Chinese software company Kingsoft. He started as the leader of Xiaomi’s smartphone operating system MIUI and the company’s official website Mi.com. Currently, he is leading Xiaomi’s new film production unit and is also Xiaomi’s vice president.
Zhou Guangping was a former senior executive at Motorola in charge of engineering and R&D. Now he is the director of Xiaomi’s Mi Phone Team and the vice president of Xiaomi.
Smartphones are the secret to Xiaomi’s success
Xiaomi started by making smartphones. According to the company’s official data, its shipment volume was less than 7.2 million in 2012. In only three years, its smartphone shipment has increased almost ten-fold, reaching 70.8 million in 2015.
Thanks to its smartphone business, Xiaomi’s valuation has roared. Xiaomi was valued at USD 250 million after receiving USD 41 million in Series A financing in July 2011. And the company landed USD 1.1 billion in December 2014, pushing its valuation to USD 45 billion.
Xiaomi is not just about phones
Xiaomi is one of the tech startups with the highest valuation in China, even in the world. But it has much bigger ambitions. Xiaomi claims on its official website that it has been an internet company from the very beginning, not just a smartphone maker. Its logo, “MI”, can even be interpreted as an abbreviation of mobile internet.
Xiaomi released its first TV box in March 2013. Now, the company has expanded to various products including smart wristbands, air purifiers, power banks, and rice cookers. Lei announced a name for their smart home ecosystem, MIJIA, at the end of March. Xiaomi has invested in 55 startups to support this business.
As Chinese internet giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT) have also expanded their business into various fields, this year Xiaomi intends to focus on product development just like when it began as a startup, Lei has repeatedly said in public.
(Top photo from aisixiang.com)