Lei Jun (雷军), founder and major shareholder of Xiaomi Tech (小米科技) [zh], has just joined the ranks of Chinese billionaires. Now worth an estimated $4 billion, the company was founded in 2010, and released the Xiaomi Phone – a major Chinese contendor to the iPhone – in 2011. The phone’s success in the mainland has led some to label Xiaomi “China’s Apple success story“, and to see Lei Jun as a Chinese version of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Forbes’ Ryan Mac reports on similarities between the two tech gurus:
Lei Jun has much in common with the late Apple icon he reveres. As my colleague Simon Montlake points out in our Forbes Magazine story, Lei, just like a young Steve Jobs, is the head of growing technology company, Xiaomi. Lei also favors the simple stylings of Jobs, preferring the black shirt and jeans combo that was once standard attire for the former Apple CEO (though he was known for his black turtleneck).
And like Jobs, Lei is now a billionaire.
[…]At 43, Lei is exactly the same age that Jobs was when he reached the $1 billion mark in 1998, less than two years after rejoining Apple from NeXT. Lei is also extremely confident that Xiaomi, which was founded in 2010, can elbow its way to the top of a crowded Chinese mobile market.
A longer article in Forbes further details Xiaomi’s story and Lei’s past, highlighting Lei’s encouragement of comparisons between himself and Apple’s late retired-CEO, and suggestions that his reputation might one-day outgrow those comparisons:
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Lei Lei Jun, the jeans-and-black-shirt-wearing billionaire founder of Xiaomi, China’s hottest smartphone company. And, if you believe Lei, the next Steve Jobs.
[…]“I was annoyed in the beginning, very annoyed. But I don’t mind anymore,” he says of the comparisons. Associates say he gets a kick out of being dubbed Lei-bu-si, a pun on Qiao-bu-si, Jobs’ Chinese name.
Rather remarkably, Lei risks the wrath of Apple fans everywhere by asserting that he can succeed in China in ways that Jobs never could have matched.
Also see suggestions for the next generation of Xiaomi phone, and a report on the possible launch of a Xiaomi phone in Taiwan later this year, from Tech In Asia.