Xiaomi’s acquisitions are in the spotlight, after the company borrowed US$1 billion from financial institutions, reports the Wall Street Journal, and, according to the Financial Times, is raising US$1.5 billion in a new round of funding. Money has never been a problem for Xiaomi. In June 2012 the company announced US$216 million of funding, at a valuation of US$4 billion, and would announce another round in August 2013 that valued it at US$10 billion.
Xiaomi, its subsidiary investment companies and Xiaomi CEO himself have invested or acquired a variety of Chinese tech companies, from smart gadget makers to pre-IPO companies, along the way. And recently the company flexed its credit card and began another shopping spree.
Xiaomi has acquired RIGO Design, the designer of many Xiaomi hardware products and the built-in custom Android system, a source close to the matter told TechNode. Shunwei, the venture capital fund founded by Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, is the angel investor of RIGO Design which was founded in 2009 by Robin Zhu, a former UX manager at Microsoft. (Update: Xiaomi would announce the acquisition on Feb. 3th, 2015.)
Xiaomi’s latest flagship phone, tablet, promotional materials and CEO’s presentation have been accused of being Apple copycats. If local media are right that RIGO only designed Red Mi for Xiaomi, one outcome of the acquisition may well be that the next Xiaomi flagship phone won’t resemble the iPhone 6.
Mobile Phone Chips
Leadcore Technology, a Shanghai-based system-on-chip solution provider, has established a joint venture with Beijing Pine Cone Electronics (our translation), according to a statement by Leadcore’s parent company Datang Group. Beijing Pine Cone, it transpires, is an affiliate of Xiaomi, for two members of the management of the joint venture are Xiaomi employees, as reported by Sina Tech (report in Chinese).
TD-SCDMA chips are the specialty of Leadcore Technology, as its parent company Datang Group is the creator and core IPR holder of the 3G standard which is primarily China-only. Datang also developed TD-LTE, the evolution of TD-SCDMA that has been incorporated into the 4G international standard by ITU-T, according to the company.
The telecom giant China Mobile is the only adopter of TD in China. That’s the major reason why China Mobile began to sell iPhones much later than China Unicom and China Telecom, who adopted international 3G standards. Xiaomi, of course, doesn’t want to miss out on the huge number of China Mobile subscribers.
Careland, a Chinese mapping company, announced yesterday that Tianjin Jinxing Investment (our translation), a subsidiary company of Xiaomi, and Jinxing’s wholly owned subsidiary had bought RMB84 million (about US$14mn) worth of shares in the company.
Maps and location-based services have become increasingly important to almost every internet company. AutoNavi and NavInfo, the two largest mapping companies in China, has been acquired by Alibaba Group and invested in by Tencent, respectively.
Xiaomi has just hired Chen Tong, former editor-in-chief of Sina news portal, to oversee online videos and other digital content shown on its hardware products, saying a billion dollars or more will be spent on content. Rumor has it yesterday that Xiaomi will invest in two leading Chinese video streaming services, Youku-Tudou, and iQiyi, the online video service of Baidu, as reported by an contributor at a local media platform Huxiu (source in Chinese).