[BEIJING] Xiaomi, the world's most valuable startup, is planning investments of its own in 100 emerging technology companies.
Xiaomi has already backed 27 startups and is looking to increase that number almost fourfold, chief executive officer Lei Jun said in Beijing on Friday. The deals will help the electronics company expand into Internet-enabled "smart home" devices, while it continues in-house development efforts for key products such as smartphones, tablets and set-top TV boxes.
"We want to help and support other innovators," Mr Lei said during a briefing at the National People's Congress, which he was attending as a member of the delegation from southern Guangdong province. "You can't say all these products are made by Xiaomi because you can't downplay the contributions these other companies are making." Since founding Xiaomi in Beijing five years ago, Lei has built the company into China's largest smartphone vendor and a startup with valuation of US$45 billion. Xiaomi sales are expected to rise to as much as 120 billion yuan (US$19 billion) this year from 74.3 billion yuan last year, Mr Lei said Friday.
Mr Lei spoke to reporters after unveiling a proposal to speed the development of national standards for smart home products. He also proposed revisions to China's companies law to better support innovation.
Mr Lei cited Zimi, which makes external power banks for Xiaomi devices, as one success story. The Jiangsu, China-based company saw 400 million yuan in sales last year, he said.
Xiaomi had previously disclosed investments in 25 startups, with plans to support "a lot more." The company accounted for 12.5 per cent of the more than 420 million smartphones shipped in China last year, up from 5.3 per cent in the prior year, according to International Data.
Xiaomi plans to boost growth by expanding into new markets, with Brazil and Russia being this year's focus, Mr Lei said. While the company aims to one day sell phones in Europe, Japan and the US, there are no plans at the moment, he said.