Published On: Tue, Jan 13th, 2015

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Almost Bought Chinese Smartphone Company

Lei Jun

When Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg traveled to Beijing, he had a private dinner with Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi, a smartphone maker that has been called “China’s Apple, ” according to Reuters. There was talk of a merger, which would have been mutually beneficial for both companies. For Facebook, it would mean expanding into China, a country with huge growth potential, but where Facebook is banned. Having Facebook as a partner would be good for Xiaomi’s global prestige, but sources say that calls were called off because of Xiaomi’s concern about a government crackdown on the deal. In addition, being bought by Facebook might compromise Xiaomi’s relationship with Google; Xiaomi’s phones operate on Google’s Android platform.

Even without a hand up from Facebook, Xiaomi raised $1.1 billion in capital, which makes it the world’s most valuable startup with backing from venture capital. Its market cap is $45 billion. The company faces some obstacles, though, with Apple accusing Xiaomi of having copied essential elements in design and technology, and alleging intellectual property violations.

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