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Xiaomi, suddenly the world's most valuable startup, raises $1.1B

The co-founder of the Chinese smartphone startup uses Facebook to confirm the financing, which gives it a valuation of $45 billion.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
Expertise Mobile, 5G, Big Tech, Social Media Credentials
  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Roger Cheng
2 min read

Redmi 1S Xiaomi

There's apparently no stopping Xiaomi's ascent.

The Chinese smartphone maker, which has been on a tear over the last four years, has raised $1.1 billion in venture capital funding, giving it a valuation of $45 billion. Bin Lin, Xiaomi co-founder and president, posted the news Monday on Facebook.

The valuation makes Xiaomi the top-dog among startups, besting Uber's financing from earlier this month that put its worth at just over $40 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. The financing underscores the rapid success of the company, which has successfully vaulted to the No. 3 position among global smartphone makers by selling lower-cost devices.

In a year when Samsung stumbled and several established players -- from Motorola to HTC -- attempted to regain their footing, Xiaomi stood out. Its valuation is more than quadruple its previous worth based on financing from 2013. The startup is also worth nearly three times Lenovo, which is the world's top PC maker and which earlier this year acquired Motorola to give it additional smartphone heft.

Xiaomi, however, isn't without challenges. Despite significant presence in Asia -- China in particular -- it faces issues expanding to developed markets because of concerns over intellectual property. Ericsson has sued Xiaomi for infringing on patents earlier this month, prompting a ban on sales in India. The ban has been temporarily lifted, but the legal dispute continues.

The company has been criticized for the similarities between its devices -- both smartphones and tablets -- and Apple's. Apple design chief, Jony Ive, has accused Xiaomi of design "theft" and of "being lazy." Hugo Barra, vice president of Xiaomi and a former Google executive, has said that while his designers are inspired by many things, Xiaomi is no copycat.

While Apple makes a large profit from the sale of high-profile devices such as the iPhone 6, Xiaomi sells more than 1,000 products at or near cost in a quest to generate a small amount of profit on each item. Its primary goal is to get more devices in people's hands in order to sell them software and services riding on top of those devices.

"We will strive to continue bringing innovation to everyone, with a goal of producing high-quality, high-performance devices with great user experience," Lin said.

He teased that Xiaomi will unveil its next flagship device in January.

Investors in the financing include All-Stars Investment, DST Global, Hopu Investment Management and Yunfeng Capital.