Ten years ago, at the dawn of China’s mobile internet boom, Lei Jun, a Chinese tech heavyweight and serial entrepreneur, co-founded a smartphone startup dubbed Xiaomi in Beijing that would later become one of the most important smartphone players in China and on the global stage. Lei was forty years old at the time.
Lei and his partners spent a decade to build Xiaomi into a digital equipment mammoth, branching out from just phones to a wide variety of electronic devices all unanimously characterized by the same trait: affordable price for products which could go on a par with more expensive devices.
In addition to widening its offering, Hong Kong-listed Xiaomi (HKEX 1810) has also expanded geographically to overseas markets including Southeast Asia, Latin America, as well as parts of Europe, in particular Western Europe, where the firm’s smartphone shipments grew 115.4% YoY in the fourth quarter of 2019, KrASIA reported.
At the end of 2018, the same year it went public in Hong Kong, Xiaomi for the first time pronounced an IoT (artificial internet of things) strategy with an RMB 10 billion pledge for its implementation, in a move intended to decrease the firm’s reliance on the smartphone division, affected by cutting-throat competition and market saturation.
The strategy has been proven to work, as the company’s Q4 2019 earnings results showed that IoT products accounted for 35% of its RMB 56.5 billion revenue, while its smartphone business contributed the remaining 55%, 5% less from a year earlier.
On April 7, 2020, Lei Jun, now CEO, celebrated Xiaomi’s 10th birthday on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, as the Beijing-based headquartered firm canceled offline events due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Moving towards the next decade, Lei Jun made a remark during the internal celebration event saying that “entrepreneurship is a road that has no end.” Probably, the first challenge for Xiaomi, now a USD 31.45 billion-valued firm, is to tackle the economic difficulties brought by the coronavirus outbreak in retail sales and production.