Lei Jun: The man who built an empire

Written by Frank Calviño

Lei Jun is a man used to success and leadership. He was born on 16 December 1969 in Xiantao, Hubei, China and in 1991 he obtained a BA in computer science, from the Wuhan University. Lei then began working at Kingsoft as an engineer only to rush like a meteor through the company hierarchy and achieve the rank of president in 1998. In 2000, Lei founded Joyo.com, an online bookstore, which was eventually sold for USD$75 million to Amazon.com in 2004. Then Lei choose to change his career focus and abandon Kingsoft, ceasing all official actions inside the company on December 20, 2007, for “health reasons”. 

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On 6 April 2010, Lei Jun founded Xiaomi Inc, a technology company that was created to manufacture smartphones, mobile apps, and other consumer electronics. This was a sort of early retirement for Lei, who was at the time seeking a more peaceful environment than the stressful one he had at Kingsoft.  He was spectacularly wrong and right at the same time. Once he started to build smartphones, Lei realized that iPhones were, in his opinion, overpriced and overhyped. He thought the same about Samsung flagship phones the S series.

With that in mind, Lei developed the Mi Note series, a phone so successful that has become the single largest phone model to be sold in China. Achieving sales of up to 350 million units, the Mi Note is, most likely, the most popular phone in Asia. Xiaomi Mi Note series phone is lighter than the iPhone, has more RAM memory and a better camera, for almost half the price. The phone is so successful inside the Chinese market that has chased Samsung of China, becoming the top selling brand of phones in the Asian giant. Now Lei stands a new challenge: to conquer the rest of the world. And giving his amazing record of success, it will seem that this will be a matter of time. Currently Lei’s net worth is estimated to be 35 billion US dollars since he owns 77.8% of Xiaomi, which is a $45 billion company. And in 2011, Lei was ranked #201 on Forbes list of China’s 400 Richest. 

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Frank Calviño

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