Xiaomi the money: Apple copycat raises record $1.5 billion in funding

Xiaomi is about to become a $40 billion company. Photo: Xiaomi

Xiaomi is about to become a $40 billion company. Photo: Xiaomi

Thanks to its cheap, Apple-esque devices, Xiaomi has quickly become the world’s third-largest smartphone supplier. Now all that copying is about to pay off big time: The Chinese startup is raising $1.5 billion in capital, the largest private financing deal since Facebook in 2011.

Negotiations haven’t been finalized, but investors include Russian Internet company DST — which backed Facebook, Airbnb and Alibaba — with a valuation expected to top $40 billion, CNBC reports.

Once the deal is completed, the 4-year-old company would become more valuable than Sony and Lenovo put together. The valuation would make Xiaomi worth twice as much as Uber, but unfortunately for Silicon Valley’s elite VC firms, Xiaomi is looking to get most of its funding from Asia-based investors.

Xiaomi’s fast rise has been helped by blatantly stealing from the designs of the iPhone and iPad. Jony Ive accused the company of “idea theft” last month, pointing out that his designs come at a personal sacrifice.

“I have to be honest, the last thing I think is, ‘Ooh, that is flattering,’” said Ive. “All those weekends I could have had at home with my lovely family but didn’t…. I don’t think it’s OK at all.”

Recent smartphone market estimates put Xiaomi’s smartphone sales at No. 3 worldwide. Thanks to the Mi4 launched in August, the company shipped 17.3 million smartphones last quarter (up 211 percent), with profits doubling since last year.