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Business Leader of the Week: Meet Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s guiding force

IFM_Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun
In 2007, Lei Jun resigned as the president and CEO of Kingsoft for health reasons and in 2010, founded Xiaomi

Xiaomi Corporation, commonly known as Xiaomi is a Chinese company that designs and manufactures consumer electronics and related software like mobiles, home appliances, and household items. It is the second largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world, behind Samsung. The company is ranked 338th and is the youngest company on the Fortune Global 500.

In 2011, Xiaomi introduced its first smartphone and by 2014, Xiaomi had the greatest market share of smartphones sold in China. In the beginning, the company mostly used to sell its product online. However, it later developed physical stores in the country. By 2015, the company was creating a variety of consumer gadgets. The business sold 146.3 million smartphones in 2020, and MIUI, its mobile user interface, has more than 500 million active monthly users.

According to Counterpoint, Xiaomi will be the third-largest smartphone seller in the world by the end of 2023, with a 12% market share. Xiaomi is also a major manufacturer of appliances including televisions, flashlights, unmanned aerial vehicles, and air purifiers. The company is expanding its domestic product line-up with its Internet of Things and Xiaomi Smart Home product ecosystems.

Xiaomi keeps its prices close to its production expenses and bill of materials costs. It also keeps most of its products on the market for 18 months, longer than most smartphone manufacturers. The company also uses flash sales and inventory optimization to maintain minimal inventories.

In 2021, Xiaomi was placed second worldwide in the evaluation of WIPO’s annual Global Intellectual Property Indicators, with 216 designs in industrial design registrations up from their previous third-place ranking in 2019. As per the 2022 first quarter report, the company was leading Indian smartphone sales. It is one of the top smartphone manufacturers in India that keeps product prices low.

In 2022, Xiaomi unveiled the company’s first humanoid robot prototype to the public. The announcement marked the company’s ambitions to integrate AI into its product designs as well as develop its humanoid robot project in the future.

The brain behind this successful consumer electronics company is a 53-year-old Chinese billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Lei Jun. He is the Founder and CEO of Xiaomi with an estimated personal net worth of around USD 8.1 billion. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he is the 203rd richest person in the world.

    Who is Lei Jun?

  • Lei Jun was born in Xiantao, in the underdeveloped countryside of Hubei, China
  • He completed his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Wuhan University in 1991
  • In 1992, Lei Jun joined the Beijing-based software company Kingsoft Corporation, and by 1998, he became the CEO
  • He founded, an online bookstore, which he sold for USD 75 million to Amazon in 2004
  • In 2007, Lei Jun resigned as the president and CEO of Kingsoft for health reasons and in 2010, founded Xiaomi
  • Lei Jun co-founded Shunwei Capital in 2011, an investment firm through which he makes investments in the e-commerce, social networking, and mobile sectors
  • The same year he joined Kingsoft as Chairman
  • Lei Jun was named Businessman of the Year by Forbes in 2014 and 100 most influential people in the world by Times Magazine
  • In 2018, he oversaw the company’s Initial Public Offering (IPO), which raised about USD 3 billion
  • Lei Jun had donated USD 1 billion to charities, starting with a ¥140,000 donation in 1997 to Wuhan University, later in 2021, he also donated over USD 2.2 billion worth of Xiaomi shares

Lei Jun On Xiaomi

In an interview given to ExamineChina in 2015, Lei Jun talks about Xiaomi and its market journey.

Lei Jun said, “Around 7.4 million pre-orders of a budget Red Rice phone prove that Xiaomi is a big player in the Chinese smartphone market. In Q2 2013, it outclassed Apple, reaching 5% of the market share. It is still lower than big companies such as Samsung, Lenovo or Huawei, but Xiaomi entered the market no sooner than in 2011. By October 2013, Xiaomi was the fifth most-used smartphone brand in China. In Q2 2014, Xiaomi shipped 15 million devices, around 14% of China’s market share, meanwhile, Samsung shipped slightly more than 13 million.”

As of today, Xiaomi continues to dominate the smartphone market. The company has a market share of 21% during Q3, 2022, shipping 9.2 million units. The annual growth rate, however, was down by 18% as the company shipped 11.2 million units during the same quarter, 2021, according to a report by Canalys.

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