The New York Times wrote a slightly huffy profile of Lei Jun, an entrepreneur who consciously copies Steve Jobs — from his clothes to his business maneuvers — and whose company, Xiaomi, has been dubbed the ‘Apple of the East.’
Jobs, of course, famously espoused the motto that ‘Good artists create, great artists steal,’ and by that standard, Mr. Jun is an unabashedly amazing artist of business. Xiaomi has sold over 7 million phones — which are essentially cheap knockoffs of iPhones and Samsungs — since Jun and partners founded the company three years ago, and no company in Chinese history has reached the $1 billion revenue mark faster.
The road to becoming Steve Jobs 2.0 is not easy, of course — Jun first read a biography of the Apple CEO when he was in college at ‘gritty’ Wuhan University (Go Rats!), and worked his way to the CEO position at Kingsoft, a software company, which he took public in 2007. He also has a knack for venture capital investments, with holdings in YY, a social media network currently worth about $1.5 billion on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, and Joyo.com, which was acquired by Amazon in 2004. Jun is worth about $1.7 billion in total.
Even Yuri Milner — an initial investor in Facebook — has put money behind Jun and Xiaomi. But what of all the innovation? The ‘thinking different?’ Jun has a few laughable quotes in the article, like, “We’re making the mobile phones like the PC, and this is a totally new idea.”
Still, hard to deny a winning streak — Mr. Jun obviously is thinking differently, albeit within the confines of the stifling Chinese bureaucracy and Communist spin machine. Maybe a few acid trips would push him further along the path to Jobsian enlightenment?