Tech

Lei Jun at 54: The Ever-Active Founder Leading Xiaomi’s Quest for Growth

Lei Jun, the 54-year-old founder of Xiaomi, is still full of energy.
On the evening of August 14th, Lei Jun held his fourth annual speech at the Beijing National Convention Center. The theme of the speech was “Growth”. The setbacks and thinking faced by Xiaomi in the process of high-end in the past three years.
The keynote speech of more than an hour, plus the follow-up new product launch conference of more than an hour, Lei Jun finished the speech by himself, from 7:00 p.m. long record.
According to industry rumors, this time Lei Jun’s speech, the PPT alone made 480 pages, except for a few minutes of rest between the speech and the press conference, the audience remained full of emotion. At the end of the press conference, many people lamented in the circle of friends that just speaking on stage for so long has already defeated many people.
“Physical and mental powers are amazing,” commented one observer.
As the first batch of programmers in China, Lei Jun entered the industry earlier than most of the familiar Internet giants. As he mentioned in his annual speech, as early as August 1990, he was only 21 years old and still in his junior year. He was “little famous” in Wuhan’s electronics street with his excellent technology, and made his first pot of gold by writing software.
In 1992, after graduation, Lei Jun followed Qiu Bojun to join Jinshan, and even became the chairman of the board all the way. He can be called the strongest “worker”. As early as 1998, before the familiar Ali and Tencent were established, the 29-year-old Lei Jun had already served as the general manager of Jinshan Company. In 2007, after working in Jinshan for 16 years, Lei Jun finally led the company to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and then announced his “resignation” from Jinshan.
In 2010, after “retiring”, he was unwilling to be just an angel investor. At the age of 41, Lei Jun founded Xiaomi and grew into China’s largest mobile phone manufacturer in just four years. In July 2018, Lei Jun led Xiaomi to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In 2019, Xiaomi was officially selected as one of the world’s top 500 companies.
At this time, Lei Jun was already 50 years old, and he had long been financially free. He had created two listed companies with one hand, and many Internet tycoons who entered the industry at the same time as Lei Jun or even later than Lei Jun had retired or semi-retired. As one of the earliest Internet tycoons in China, it stands to reason that Lei Jun could have retired long ago, especially after the entire mobile phone industry began to stop growing and became less “sexy”.
However, Lei Jun not only did not retire, but even started Xiaomi’s “second venture” in 2021, officially announcing the building of cars. In April of this year, after the attack of generative AI, Xiaomi formed a large-scale model team and began to fully bet on AI, and officially announced the upgrade of its technology strategy on August 14.

Lei Jun said that the scientific and technological concept of Xiaomi’s strategic upgrade is to choose technological fields that have long-term value to human civilization and insist on long-term continuous investment. In the process of exploring technology, Xiaomi will follow the following principles: deep cultivation of underlying technology, long-term continuous investment, deep integration of software and hardware, and comprehensive AI empowerment.
In fact, this is also in line with everyone’s consistent understanding of Lei Jun – a model worker in the technology circle. One of the hardest-working CEOs in China is still striving to be the “King of Volume” in the technology and Internet industry.

Lei Jun, a model worker, has always been the “rolling king”
As the first generation of programmers in China, Lei Jun’s early stories have been widely circulated in the technology circle. For example, after completing four years of credits in two years of university, he earned the first pot of gold in his junior year, and was excavated by Qiu Bojun to enter Jinshan. Such stories are talked about by many users and fans.
On the evening of August 14th, Lei Jun disclosed many “details” of his early experience in his annual speech, which caused many people to exclaim that “it’s too complicated”.
First of all, in order to complete all the credits within two years, Lei Jun has taken twice as many classes, written twice as many homework, and passed twice as many exams since he was in college. He said in his speech, “This is going to college in hell mode.”
At that time, Wuhan University was one of the first batch of credit system colleges and universities in China. If you want to complete credits in two years, there is no precedent for reference. In order to achieve this goal, Lei Jun summed up the problems encountered and three solutions.
First of all, in order to settle the course selection, Lei Jun took the initiative to find seniors who were juniors and seniors, discuss which courses were better, and systematically learn the course knowledge of the seniors. He said that many people like to think about problems by themselves. In fact, everyone will encounter your problems, and there are even standard answers.
Secondly, because there are double classes, there are too many courses and some of them must be self-study. In order to complete the self-study, Lei Jun grits his teeth and reads the courses repeatedly. After reading it a few times, I got the hang of it. This became his second experience: knowledge is not linear, and ignorance in the front does not affect the learning later, and it is easier to understand the front after learning later, and lifelong learning is even more important.
Finally, because there are too many classes and there are often time conflicts, in order to get the roll call done, Lei Jun always sits in the first row every class, and the teacher is the first to raise his hand when he asks a question. Lei Jun said that the teacher has a good impression of you, so the problem of absenteeism is not a big problem.

With unremitting efforts, Lei Jun finally completed all the credits within two years. After completing the credits, Lei Jun set himself the goal of becoming an excellent programmer. At that time, even in the computer department of Wuhan University, the computers were very tight and needed to be used by tickets. There were only two tickets per person per week, and one ticket was 2 Hour.
In order to give himself more opportunities to use the computer, Lei Jun went to the computer room to queue up whenever he was free. If he doesn’t know how to guide, it gives him a sense of accomplishment.
In order to make full use of the limited time on the computer, Lei Jun also writes the code on paper in advance every time, and enters it directly in the computer room. In order to practice faster keyboard typing, he also rubbed the keyboard and pasted it on the desk for continuous practice. When there is no computer available, Lei Jun even writes the program directly on paper, rewriting the demonstration program of the textbook with his own method.
When he was a sophomore, Lei Jun’s first programming class “Pascal Language Programming” homework was compiled into the new edition of the textbook by the teacher. Later, he also entered the teacher’s laboratory to do a project. Finally, a computer was available, and he gradually became a teacher in the eyes of his classmates. The “technical master” achieved the second goal.
Until a few years ago, Lei Jun saw a piece of assembly language code on Zhihu, and found that it was a small tool he wrote in his sophomore year. It was very popular in China at that time, so Lei Jun open sourced it. Thirty years later, he still being discussed by everyone. “As a programmer, I am very proud.”.
After becoming a technical master, Lei Jun set himself a third goal, to publish a paper in a first-level journal.
This was very difficult for an undergraduate student who had not yet graduated at the time. He specially found his teacher Zhang De to ask the professor for advice. Professor Zhang suggested that he sort out his previous thinking on computer viruses and write it into a thesis.
In the early 1990s, there was the first major outbreak of computer viruses in China. Lei Jun was one of the first batch of programmers who wrote anti-virus software in China. He organized his research into a paper and submitted it to “Computer Research and Development”. Half a year later, the paper was accepted, but was not officially released until two years later in August 1992.

Regarding Lei Jun’s experience at Wuhan University, many details disclosed this time have made many people feel emotional. It turns out that Lei Jun’s “model worker” was trained in college, and the source of all his strength came from the first time he watched it. This “Silicon Valley Fire” ignited my dream.

Moment of truth for the richest man in mobile
As one of the earliest programmers in China, and also one of the most powerful technology giants in the early days, many people said that if Lei Jun did not start his own business later, China might have one more technology giant and one less entrepreneur. But before graduating from Wuhan University, Lei Jun started his first “entrepreneurship” and went to another road other than technology, which also paved the way for him to eventually become the richest man in China’s mobile phone industry.
In the late 1980s, Lei Jun met Wang Quanguo, a senior in Wuhan Electronics Street. The two wrote an encryption software BITLOK together. The price was more than 2,000 yuan. It was very influential inside, and then it was upgraded for several generations and sold until 1995/1996, allowing Lei Jun to earn his first pot of gold.

Around 1990, after becoming well-known in the electronic street in Wuhan, Lei Jun and several seniors started their first business venture and founded the “Three Colors” company. At that time, each of the four founders held 25% of the shares, and at one time there were more than a dozen people. But because everyone was too young at the time and didn’t know how to manage, the four people had the same shareholding. It was a problem who to listen to when something happened. As a result, the more business the company had, the more difficult it was to make money. The color company was liquidated and closed.
The failure of Sanse Company poured cold water on Lei Jun, but at the same time, it also made him realize that entrepreneurship is the fastest way for personal growth. Technology alone is not enough to run a company, and there are still many management things to learn.
In 1992, Lei Jun met Qiu Bojun after graduation and joined Jinshan Company. At that time, Jinshan was only a small company with only five or six people. In Jinshan, Lei Jun completed his growth from a technician to a manager, and also laid the foundation for him to start Xiaomi in the future. It was not until 2010 that Lei Jun started his business again, almost 20 years after his first venture.
Regarding the story of Jinshan and Xiaomi, Lei Jun did not talk much this time, but focused on sharing the difficulties and challenges that Xiaomi encountered in high-end exploration in the past few years. Lei Jun bluntly said that Xiaomi’s high-end exploration in the past three years has been the most painful and rewarding experience in the past ten years.

In 2020, the Mi 10 series will be high-end, and it has achieved a double harvest of word-of-mouth and sales at the beginning. However, the Mi 11 series in 2021 will suffer from Waterloo. The word-of-mouth of the phone plummeted until the Mi 12 series failed to reverse.
In order to solve this problem, before the Spring Festival in 2022, Lei Jun chatted with many people in the company, and found that not everyone in the company wants to be high-end, and many people have sharp opinions. Many people even think that it is good not to be high-end . After the Spring Festival that year, Xiaomi held the largest special strategy seminar in history. The general managers of all departments participated, and the meeting was noisy from afternoon to night.
But Lei Jun believes that high-end is not the choice of Xiaomi, but the choice of the industry. In order to convince everyone, Lei Jun said that there are Apple, Samsung and Huawei in the mobile phone market, and the competition is fierce. High-end is not a question of whether Xiaomi wants to do it or not, but the only way for Xiaomi to develop, and it is a battle of life and death.
Regarding the failure of the Mi 11 series, Lei Jun even bluntly said that it was inevitable, and said that the success of the Mi 10 series was only “one or two mistakes at the time”, without the ability to systematize, it was bound to lose. Under Lei Jun’s persuasion, everyone finally reached a consensus, and officially defined high-end as a group strategy.
This year, the Mi 13 series has received good feedback in terms of sales and word of mouth. Data shows that in the first quarter of this year, the activation volume of Mi 13 exceeded 4.5 million units, and the market rumored that the sales volume of this model exceeded 6 million units. Based on this, Xiaomi ranks first in the market share of domestic Android manufacturers in the price range of 4,000-5,000 yuan.
These experiences are regarded by Lei Jun as several key growths in his life: his schooling career at Wuhan University allowed him to build a dream and learn to dismantle his goals; Jinshan’s entrepreneurship allowed Lei Jun to complete the transformation from programmer to manager, Xiaomi The founding of the company realized Lei Jun’s dream of creating a Fortune 500 company. Especially the first entrepreneurial experience and Xiaomi’s three-year high-end setbacks, there are many reflections of Lei Jun.
In May of this year, the “2023 New Fortune 500 Rich List” announced that Lei Jun and his family ranked 30th with 74.56 billion yuan. In this list, Lei Jun is the number one mobile phone tycoon and the current leader in the mobile phone industry. richest man. The other major domestic mobile phone manufacturers, OPPO, vivo, Honor and Huawei are not listed, and most of the equity is more dispersed.
In addition to being the founder of Xiaomi Group, Lei Jun also founded Shunwei Capital as a well-known domestic angel investor. Since 2004, Lei Jun has been active in the domestic investment market. In the past ten years, Shunwei Capital and Xiaomi Group have also invested More than 100 companies, including well-known companies such as UC Browser, Huanju Times, and Weilai, and the Xiaomi ecological chain alone has many listed companies.

“Rolling King” should follow the trend
But even Lei Jun is often difficult to resist the general trend. Back then, Lei Jun was struggling with office software in Jinshan, but because of this, he missed the first wave of China’s Internet, and watched the rise of Baidu, Ali and Tencent. Therefore, since the founding of Xiaomi, Lei Jun has advocated the theory of “outlet” and advocated following the trend. Lei Jun’s Shunwei Capital was named after this.
Lei Jun, as the first generation of Internet tycoons, needs technology and hard work. He has worked hard in Jinshan for 16 years, but it is not as good as many people’s achievements in the Internet trend after 2000. This made him realize The importance of tuyere and track.
So even after turning fifty, Lei Jun is still chasing after the wind.
Since 2020, the popularization of domestic new energy vehicles has accelerated, and the electric vehicle industry has ushered in explosive growth. Lei Jun and Xiaomi also officially announced car building in March 2021. Lei Jun even said bluntly that Xiaomi car building is the last major entrepreneurial project in his life.
In September 2021, Xiaomi Automobile Co., Ltd. was established. In November, Xiaomi signed a cooperation agreement with Beijing Economic Development Zone, and Xiaomi Automobile officially settled in Beijing Economic Development Zone.
Just at the beginning of this year, generative AI exploded, and major companies rushed to enter the large-scale model. Lei Jun also officially announced Xiaomi’s large-scale model strategy on the evening of August 14, fully embracing the large-scale model. According to Lei Jun’s disclosure, Xiaomi established a large-scale model team in April this year, focusing on the direction of “lightweight and local deployment” so that users can use the large-scale model capabilities on the mobile phone.

Lei Jun said that Xiaomi’s large model of the mobile phone, some scene effects are already comparable to the cloud. In addition, Lei Jun also officially announced that Xiao Ai will be able to access large-scale models, and will open an internal test on August 14. As Xiaomi’s smart voice assistant, Xiao Ai has accumulated 110 million monthly active users.
In today’s Chinese technology industry, many bigwigs have retired, but Lei Jun is still active in the front line.
And at a time when many people are confused about the future, Lei Jun is still insisting on doing things. Whether it is Xiaomi making cars or betting on large models, Lei Jun chooses to play in person. As the first generation of Internet giants, Lei Jun still has not chosen to lie flat.
That night, in the process of sharing the high-end exploration of Mi 13, Lei Jun said that only a cognitive breakthrough can bring real growth, which is his biggest gain in the past ten years. In the past few years, due to multiple reasons, many people have felt anxious and confused about the future. In the torrent of changing times, how to obtain inner peace has become a question that many people are thinking about.
The answer given by Lei Jun is “growth”.
“Life is a marathon, and the success or failure of a moment is not so important. You will find the answer to all the problems in life as you grow. People are great because of their dreams, and they grow by sticking to their dreams.” Lei Jun said.
However, on the evening of August 14th, Lei Jun did not disclose any progress of Xiaomi Cars. In the “One more thing” link at the end of the press conference, many people were expecting Lei Jun to bring new trends of Xiaomi Cars, but the products released turned out to be machines. Dog “Iron Egg 2.0”. However, the window period of the market has become narrower and narrower. Many people in the industry said that it will be too late if Xiaomi does not go on the market.
Now in the entire new energy vehicle market, BYD and Tesla have formed a two-giant competition situation. Monthly sales of 10,000 vehicles are regarded as the “life and death line” of new forces. The market competition is becoming more and more fierce. Can Xiaomi Auto It remains to be seen to win a place in the Red Sea market.
The market expects that Xiaomi cars will be mass-produced in the first half of 2024.
In the absence of new progress in Xiaomi cars, Lei Jun announced that Xiaomi is betting on large-scale models and technological strategic upgrades, perhaps also to give the market a reassurance. But obviously, compared with Lei Jun’s personal growth, the market may want to see more “growth” stories about Xiaomi cars.

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