Updated, after the break
Xiaomi, the Chinese electronics company, raised $1.1bn (£0.7bn) in its latest round of funding, taking its total valuation to $45bn and making it one of the world’s most valuable privately-owned technology companies.
Bin Lin, the co-founder and president of Xiaomi, published the update in a Facebook post, calling it “an affirmation of Xiaomi’s stellar results” over the last four years that “heralds in a new phase for the company”.
Mr Lin said the company’s investors include All-Stars Investment, DST, GIC, Hopu Fund and Yunfeng Capital, among others.
The Beijing-based tech firm is the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker, behind Samsung and Apple, after it was nudged off its brief stint in third place when Lenovo acquired Motorola Mobility from Google in October.
Xiaomi is now worth more than some of its more established, publicly-listed Asian tech rivals. Its $45bn valuation is roughly three times higher than Lenovo’s $14.5bn.
I didn’t know it was now “worth” more than Lenovo. I have this to say about that: Bubble insanity!
Sure, it can be argued that Lenovo is selling into a mature market with notebooks and servers. But Lenovo also never has to watch its back for patent infringement and design theft lawsuits.
Lenovo is a global company. Xiaomi is really just a domestic Chinese company that’s avoided all the trouble waiting to pounce on them when they go beyond China. Patent royalties will eat into their low-price formula and design theft lawsuits will ensure that some products currently sold in China will remain in China.
A chart was published on Weibo comparing the valuation of Xiaomi to others:
(Because of the way China renders numbers, the figures might look strange. Know that they’re all in Billions.)
If it seems I have a new skepticism about Xiaomi, it’s because the Balmuda design theft opened my eyes. It’s one thing to be influenced by another company (how many ways are there to do a round-rectangle phone or tablet?) — outright theft of detail after detail is an entirely different dimension.
So in my eyes, Xiaomi has yet to show what Xiaomi can do. MIUI doesn’t enter into this because that’s software. People know Xiaomi primarily through hardware. Where are the designs that say, “This is from Xiaomi” as designs from Apple, Sony, and Samsung display their respective corporate design talents and signatures? There’s no Xiaomi signature to be seen. It’s all forgery.
Does what I say matter at all? Hell no. The money will keep piling into Xiaomi. They compete on the level of a Jeff Bezos and most of the planet is still a virgin market for them. There’s still time for them to show us a Xiaomi signature. But even if they don’t, that’s not going to matter to people interested in financial returns. If they could get multiple-thousand returns from whores, they’d invest in them.
Inflate that bubble!