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Time to Rethink Xiaomi’s Value

With uncertainty clouding global tech and the funding into China startups decelerating after a record run, it’s a good time to take a second look at some of the highest flyers.

None flew as high as Xiaomi, the smartphone-maker funded by the charismatic serial entrepreneur Lei Jun that peddles high-end phones at budget prices in online-only stores. Investors put in $1.1 billion and valued his firm at $46 billion, making it the most valuable startup in the world at the time. But that was two years ago. Since then, Xiaomi’s shine has faded as domestic rivals have pushed the phone-maker to fourth place. In a pincer move, Huawei targeted luxury phones and Oppo and Vivo rolled out aggressive brick-and-mortar sales networks.  

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While it’s true that appliances are losing their luster—General Electric sold that part of its business to Haier Group, the Chinese appliance company trying to break into the U.S. market—it’s also true that cellphone companies can vanish, too.  

William McLeod and Da Etoya commented on this article.
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Consider Xiaomi as a hybrid between Apple and Philips, given a little optimism on growth rates for phone sales in India and the fast growth of its appliance sales back in China.