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New King of Tech Startups: Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Raises $1.1 Billion at $45 Billion Valuation

The fast-growing Chinese phone maker is already the world's third-largest smartphone seller.

Reuters

Xiaomi has said it has closed a massive $1.1 billion round of funding that values the fast-growing Chinese phone maker at a jaw-dropping $45 billion, pre-money. The huge amount makes it the most highly valued tech startup in the world, besting a recent whopping valuation of Uber at over $40 billion.

CEO and founder Lei Jun officially announced the investment on a post on China’s Weibo just now. He said the funding, which has been widely reported was coming, was completed last week.

Yuri Milner’s investment group DST Global, which sources say has already poured $500 million into Xiaomi, took part in the latest round, which is mostly made up of new investors. Milner’s interest in the Chinese company has been intriguing, akin to his big-money bets in Facebook many years ago.

A private equity group affiliated with Alibaba Group‘s Jack Ma also invested in this round, along with a pile of other powerful players.

The reason is clear: With a focus on rapid innovation and nifty software, Xiaomi has quickly grown to become the world’s third-largest phone maker. However, a recent financial report showed profits remain slim, just $56 million in 2013.

The company’s valuation, though, has continued to soar as the company has expanded beyond its home turf in China, with an eye toward becoming a global giant. A 2012 funding round valued the company at $4 billion, while investments last year pegged its valuation at $10 billion.

Sources say that $10 billion is now equal roughly to the amount of revenue that Xiaomi is doing annually, as the company continues to expand into new markets, including India. In China, Xiaomi frequently sells tens of thousands of its phones per minute through its online storefront.

As was the case with Alibaba, the latest Xiaomi funding reflects strong global interest to back companies that have thrived in China’s cutthroat domestic market and have the scale and ambition to take their efforts worldwide.

Overseeing Xiaomi’s big global plans is Hugo Barra, a former Google executive who was part of the team that leads Android development.

The investment is the second massive one to take place in the last month, creating private companies that are valued at sums akin to public ones. Uber, the sometimes controversial transportation startup, recently announced a similar funding. Like Uber, Xiaomi has grown very big, very fast.

Xiaomi executive Bin Lin appeared at D: Dive Into Mobile in 2013 to discuss the company’s humble roots, its winning online sales strategy and its plans to grow far bigger.

Here’s a video of his appearance:

And here’s a translation of Jun’s post:

Xiaomi Completed A New Round of Financing Last Week

Xiaomi raised a new financing round at a $45bn valuation last week. The total amount raised was more than $1.1bn. Investors include All Stars, DST, GIC, Hopu and Yunfeng. This fundraising round is in recognition of the results Xiaomi has achieved in the last four years since inception, and also unveils the next chapter of development for Xiaomi.

Xiaomi will assume we are starting from scratch, and continue working towards our dream to let everyone globally enjoy a better life through technology. Our goal is always to pursue high quality, high performance products with good user experience.

Xiaomi will launch some heavyweight flagship products in January 2015 to show gratitude to the fans, partners and investors who have been supporting us.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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