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29 facts about Lei Jun, godfather of Chinese smartphone

Lei Jun not only founded Xiaomi, he also created Microsoft's biggest competitor in the Chinese market, and he sold his e-commerce site to Amazon.

On March 29th, Chinese smartphone maker XIAOMI announced that it will enter the NEV market. They will invest 10 billion dollars in electric cars over the next 10 years.

“This will be the last time in my life to start a new business.” Lei Jun, the company’s founder, said at a press conference. For most foreigners, Lei Jun’s name always appears with XIAOMI. But in fact, Lei Jun had already shaped a number of successful Internet companies before he founded XIAOMI.

He created Microsoft’s biggest competitor in China and sold his e-commerce site to Amazon. He also created the earliest antivirus software in China.

Let’s talk briefly about Lei Jun’s achievements:

1. Lei Jun created China’s earliest antivirus software “Immunity 90” in 1989, which sells for 260 CNY. At that time, only major schools in China had computers, and the software enabled Lei Jun to make the first money in his life.

2. Lei Jun founded Kingsoft in 1992. The company’s most famous software is WPS, a Microsoft Office-like Office Suite. WPS was originally run on DOS, when Microsoft Office could not type in Chinese, and WPS solved this problem and provided similar functionality.

3. WPS is currently a basic free software, and you can download and use most of its features (reading and editing documents) for free. It makes money by selling cloud services and document templates. This gives it a huge price advantage over Microsoft Office in developing countries.

4. WPS is one of the few competitors that pose a real threat to Microsoft Office. WPS is currently installed on 76 per cent of PC in China. This number is similar to that of Microsoft Office.

5. In 1995, Lei Jun established Chinese mainland’s first video game studio “Seasun Entertainment” (西山居) under Kingsoft. The best-known game series of this game is “Swordsman Love”.

6. Lei Jun founded Joyo.com, one of Chinese mainland’s earliest online bookstores in 2000. It launched three years earlier than Taobao.com, the largest e-commerce website in China.

7. Joyo.com was acquired by Amazon in 2004 and was renamed Amazon China.

8. Lei Jun has been a programmer early in his career. He has also written two books, “into DOS programming” and “into Windows programming”. Both books have been used as teaching materials by Chinese universities.

9. Even when Kingsoft has become a very large company, Lei Jun will still be involved in programming. Until once, a new employee inadvertently formatted his hard drive. Since then, Lei Jun has become a full-time manager.

10. Lei Jun visited Jeff Bezos in Seattle in 2018. Jeff Bezos apologized to Lei Jun because the development of Amazon China is not good.

11. He left Kingsoft completely in 2007 to become an angel investor. During this period, China’s TMT industry began to booming. Lei Jun has invested in 270 companies, such as Xunlei, UC browser, Tiger Brokers, Cheetah Mobile and so on.

12. Lei Jun founded Xiaomi in 2010. A year later, he launched the company’s first mobile phone in China, imitating Jobs’ style.

13. The first-generation Xiaomi smartphone sells for 1999 yuan ($309). For comparison, the iPhone 4s released that year cost $649, Samsung Galaxy S II was about $700.

14. Lei Jun was 42 when Xiaomi was founded. He had previously realized his personal freedom of wealth.

15. XIAOMI is actually the Chinese word for millet, when XIAOMI was founded, Lei Jun cooked a pot of porridge with millet, and all the co-founders of XIAOMI drank some of it.

16. After a series of crises in Huawei, Xiaomi has become the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world. Its annual production is second only to Apple and Samsung.

17. In the fourth year after the establishment of Xiaomi, Lei Jun thought the business of the company had matured. At that time, he handed over the company’s core business to professional managers. This led to the “Xiaomi crisis” in China’s smartphone industry in 2016, giving Huawei room to grow.

18. In 2016, Lei Jun created a new smart home brand, MIJIA (Mi Home). This brand is the home automation & IoT brand with the highest market share in China.

19. MIJIA’s first product was an intelligent rice cooker. Do you still remember the millet congee they drank when Xiaomi was founded? At that time, Lei used a rice cooker to cook porridge. Looks like that rice cooker doesn’t work very well.

20. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lei Jun donated 12.7 million yuan to Wuhan. In addition, he donated an additional 3 million masks when masks were scarce.

21. Wuhan is the hometown of Lei Jun.

22. Lei Jun graduated from Wuhan University, one of the earliest universities majoring in computer science in the People’s Republic of China.

23. In 1990, Lei Jun as the leader of Kingsoft, rejected two people who came to seek financing. They are Jack Ma and Pony Ma. They are the founders of Alibaba and Tencent respectively.

24. Zhang Xiaolong, the father of Wechat, wanted to sell his software Foxmail, a useful e-mail client, to Kingsoft. Lei Jun verbally agreed, but then he forgot to arrange for his colleagues to complete the deal. So Zhang Xiaolong went to Tencent, and made WeChat.

25. In 1999, the company began to recruit a secretary for Lei Jun. A student who had not yet graduated took part in the interview, and the company’s HR told her that she would be notified whether the company hired her or not. Ten days later, she was not notified. She angrily wrote a letter to Lei Jun, but expressed her thanks for the interview (sarcasm). At last she got the job.

26. XIAOMI’s conceptual product line is named XIAOMI Mix, but Mix does not mean hybrid. It is the abbreviation of Made In Xierqi. Xierqi is a region northwest of Beijing that is home to Xiaomi’s headquarters. At the same time, the northern headquarters of Chinese technology companies such as Baidu, NetEase, Tencent and Weibo are also there.

27. Lei Jun’s spoken English is not good. In 2016, he gave a terrible English speech at XIAOMI’s press conference in India. The speech was so bad that it was made into a meme and was widely circulated on Chinese mainland. You can search for “Are You OK?” to find this meme. Lei Jun did not feel angry about this, but asked the company’s marketing department to produce more meme.

28. During a marketing campaign on December 28, 2020, Lei Jun mentioned his three New year’s resolutions: take a long vacation, learn a musical instrument, and help others realize some wishes. But half a month later, XIAOMI began to investigate the NEV industry and announced its entry into the electric vehicle market in March. I’m afraid Lei Jun’s wish this year will not come true.

29. The reason why Lei Jun chose to start a business after graduating from college was inspired by a book. The name of this book is Fire in the Valley: The Birth and Death of the Personal Computer. The book, first published in 1984, documents the rise of Intel, Microsoft and Apple. So Steve Jobs really inspired Lei Jun.

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