Briefing: Xiaomi founder Lei Jun loses RMB 1 billion bet

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Xiaomi Chief Appears to Lose 1 Billion Yuan Bet – Bloomberg

What happened: A storied five-year bet between Xiaomi chairman Lei Jun and Gree Electric chairwoman Dong Mingzhu is due, and the smartphone entrepreneur seems to have lost RMB 1 billion (around $150 million). The wager dates back to Dec. 12, 2013, when Lei bet Dong RMB 1 during a televised event that Xiaomi’s revenue would surpass Gree’s within five years. Dong countered, raising the bet to RMB 1 billion. Home appliance manufacturer Gree on Sunday reported revenue of RMB 198 billion for 2018, beating Xiaomi by about RMB 20 billion.

Why it’s important: Back in 2013 when the bet was made, the two leaders were awarded as examples of successful entrepreneurs in China’s booming tech and industrial industries by state broadcaster CCTV. At that time, Gree outranked Xiaomi in everything from revenue to factories and employees. Lei believed that his online selling strategy would eventually outplay Gree’s home appliance business empire. But it seems that there is no real loser, as Xiaomi has grown into a smartphone giant from a little-known startup in the just five years, selling 118.7 million smartphones in 2018. Lei himself received compensation totaling around RMB 10 billion in 2018.