Eight years ago, Lei Jun purchased his first Tesla. Last Wednesday, speaking with a slightly husky voice because he had a cold, Lei said that Xiaomi is about to enter the electric vehicle business. He called it “the last major entrepreneurship project” of his life.
The announcement cut through a series of leaks and denials from the past few months. Before this point, Lei himself had a hard time figuring out whether Xiaomi should be part of this highly competitive industry, with startups like Nio, Xpeng gaining heat, and conglomerates like Baidu and Evengrande already making headway.
“During those days, I would come up with ten reasons why we should do it. At night, when I calmed down, I would come up with ten reasons why we should not do it,” said Lei during the company’s Mega Launch event. The speech was also published on his official WeChat channel on the same day.
EV manufacturing involves large investments and returns come much later, but Lei has confidence in Xiaomi. The brand has millions of fans around the world, and has developed many successful smart gadgets from scratch. More importantly, it has sufficient cash to fund the R&D on its own.
“This time, I will personally lead the team, and this will be the last major entrepreneurial project in my life,” said the 51-year-old founder and CEO.
His all-in determination left many fans emotional in the wake of his presentation.
“Don’t make this your last entrepreneurial project, Lei Jun!” reads one Weibo comment. “Go into real estate!”
Here is an edited translation of Lei Jun’s open letter published on his official WeChat account: