Xiaomi Inc., headquartered in Beijing, China, may not be the most easily recognizable brand in the US, but it is the world's 3rd largest smartphone OEM after Apple and Samsung, and the biggest in China, having recently surpassed Samsung in that market. For the uninitiated, Xiaomi designs, develops and sells not only smartphones, but mobile apps, accessories and smart consumer electronics. It was only last year, that they ventured out of their home base in China and immediately proved to be a big hit in other Asian markets most notably, in India. Last December, Xiaomi became the world's most valuable technology start-up after it received US$1.1 billion funding from investors, making it a $46 billion company. US-China investment firm GGV Capital has also invested in three different Xiaomi-backed companies since and is actively funding Xiaomi-backed firms as part of its Internet-of-Things bet.
However, Xiaomi has no plans to sit on its laurels and plans to move full steam ahead in its quest to become what their CEO Lei Jun calls an "ecosystem empire". But even though they've grown exponentially over the past few years, they are increasingly facing challenges on their home turf from domestic technology companies like LeTV, that are betting big in the smart devices business.
Earlier this week, when Xiaomi backed robotics company Ninebot who acquired Segway in an acquisition, it was a big step for Xiaomi because it marked the first time one of their group companies had bought a globally recognized brand. Talking about that acquisition and his plans for Xiaomi going forward, the company CEO Mr. Lei Jun, while interacting with reporters, said that Xiaomi wasn't concerned about challenges coming from their hardware competitors. Its strategy, he said, is to grow the company into an "ecosystem empire" with the focus being on software that can link up anything, anywhere. The company already offers smart products including, but not limited to smart bulbs, smart air purifiers, smart televisions etc. Now with new-found financial muscle, Xiaomi can radically increase its already burgeoning product portfolio simply by investing in new partners in all corners of the Internet-of-Things industry. With a view to achieving those goals, Xiaomi he says, has already invested in more than 20 startups and plans to invest in a hundred more and help them achieve growth, said Mr. Lei Jun.