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Episode 129: Xiaomi – Team, History & Products with Eva Xiao

Eva Xiao from Technode joined us in a two parter episodes on one of China’s top unicorns: Xiaomi. We traced the history of the company starting from the founders of the company, most notably Lei Jun and Bin Lin, and how they managed to bring in top talent such as Hugo Barra into the company. In our discussion, we discussed how their success first came about with their forked android operating system, MIUI that led them towards contract manufacturing and flash sales of the phone and reviewed the major products of the company.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • Eva Xiao, Reporter at Technode.com (@evawxiao, LinkedIn, Wechat: evawxiao , Technode)
    • What are the interesting news and events that has recently happened in China? [1:42]
      • Techcrunch Shanghai 
      • LendIt China 2016, coming up: ChinaJoy
  • Xiaomi – Part 1 (@xiaomi) [3:33]
    • What is the mission and vision of Xiaomi as a company? [3:52]
      • Less is more
      • Bringing innovation to everyone
      • Changing the world’s view of Chinese products aligned with Chinese government’s 2025 “Made in China” initiative.
    • The executive leadership team behind Xiaomi is interesting, as the co-founders together with the CEO, Lei Jun all have interesting backgrounds and were nicknamed “the avengers”. Can you talk about the the founding team and the key people? [6:42]
      • Lei Jun – can you talk about his background and track record both as an entrepreneur and super business angel? The inspiration behind his rise from a book entitled “Fire in the Valley” [6:56]
        • Kingsoft, Joyo.com
        • Shunwei Capital
        • Angel Investments: UCWeb, YY
      • Bin Lin – used to head the engineering team in Google China and specifically adapting Android to the Chinese market. [10:04]
        • Masters of Comp Sci at Drexel University
        • also worked at Microsoft, R&D of Windows Vista and IE8
        • met Lei Jun in 2008 when he was pushing for Google’s partnership with UCWeb
      • Zhou Guang Ping – the person who build the hardware for the first generation of smartphones. [12:02]
        • Chief of Hardware R&D of Motorola’s best-selling model “Ming” series
        • Established R&D Center for Motorola China in 1999
    • Other than the founders, they have brought in key external people into their management team, can you briefly talk about them:
      • Hugo Barra formerly from Google (and his reasons for leaving Google for Xiaomi) [13:18]
        • first major non-Chinese hire
        • in charge of international expansion
        • VP and spokesperson for Google’s Android division (2008 – 2013)
        • Robin Chan, early investor in Xiaomi, Twitter, Square
      • Chew Shou Zi, CFO, his current priorities based on the report from TheInformation.com, and his background as an investor from DST [15:00]
        • Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s investment firm DST Global invested in Xiaomi w/other investment firms in a round worth $1.1 billion USD in 2014
        • international background: MBA at Harvard, worked for BD at Facebook, University of College London, Goldman Sachs
    • How did Xiaomi start as a smartphone maker and subsequently branch out into other consumer electronics? [16:25]
      • MIUI Android OS first, then Mi 1
      • Then “ecosystem empire” (more below)
    • What are the current products from Xiaomi and which ones are really doing well? [19:10]
      • Smartphones (current latest models: Mi5, RedMi 3X or 3S)
      • Drones (Mi Drone – at US$600 about half the price of the equivalent from DJI Phantom)
      • Fitness bands (Mi Band 2)
      • Mi Power Bank
      • Air Purifiers (and they don’t have HEPA filters)
      • Yi Camera
      • smart scales, water filters, Ninebot Mini, smart rice cooker…
    • Xiaomi’s core strength is in software most notably MiUi, can you briefly talk about their software services? [22:01]
      • Game publisher, also has Mi Credits (virtual currency) for in-app purchases (ex: themes)
      • Cloud storage

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bleongcw) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Altizen Desk on Indiegogo (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Also check out Ideal Workspace’s new standing desk, Altizen and sign up for their mailing list. Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack. 

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By | 2016-08-21T20:29:44+00:00 August 18th, 2016|Analyse Asia Podcast, Podcast Shows|

About the Author:

A pragmatic idealist in technology, media & entrepreneurship.