Ratan Tata’s 9th Investment In 10 Months Is a Chinese Mobile Company Xiaomi!
Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan & Chairman Emeritus of $100 billion Tata Sons, Ratan Tata, has become the first Indian to invest in the Chinese mobile startup Xiaomi. 78 year old Ratan Tata’s investment in the $48 billion worth Xiaomi, which is also called World’s most valuable tech start-up, is totally unexpected and unprecedented as Indian billionaires normally don’t invest in Chinese companies.
Xiaomi India announced the news via Tweet:
We are happy to announce that Mr. Ratan Tata, chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, has made an investment in #Xiaomi pic.twitter.com/qR0hwUcNFJ
— Mi India (@MiIndiaOfficial) April 26, 2015
Hugo Barra, VP of Xiaomi Global also tweeted, stating: “We’re really excited to announce our newest Xiaomi investor — Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons.”
The amount of investment hasn’t been disclosed yet, but industry watchers are speculating that instead of ‘financial transaction’, this announcement is more of a ‘credibility booster’ for the Chinese firm, which had recently launched their new India specific mobile: Mi 4i amidst much fanfare and excitement.
Xiaomi, which will turn 4 this August, has quickly climbed up the popularity chart, as it became World’s 3rd largest mobile phone company after Samsung and Apple. Last year, they sold 64 million units all over the globe.
In India, they entered last year, and replicated their immense success in a very short time. Last month, they beat Apple and Samsung to become largest 4G handsets vendor in the country, and reportedly, they have sold more than a million units in the last 10 months.
But, along with success, they also received quite a bit of negative attention as well. Indian Air Force have recommended not to buy Xiaomi’s phone as concerns were raised about data security and spying. At one point of time, Xiaomi phones were also banned in India.
Xiaomi has aggressively countered these accusation with assurances that their phones are completely safe, and they are not into spying. To be very clear, they have even announced manufacturing in India, along with having data centers within the country to be even safer.
The Super Startup Investor: Ratan Tata
In the last 10 months, this is Ratan Tata’s 9th investment in a startup. It is estimated that Ratan’s personal worth is $1 billion or Rs 6000 crores, and all these investments which he did in startups have been done from his personal assets.
Here is a brief round-up of all the investments done by him in the last year:
– Altaeros Energies:
After stepping down from Tata Group, his first investment was made in this Wind Energy startup from Boston. They are currently building world’s highest wind turbine at Alaska
Ratan Tata’s first foray into Indian ecommerce was 0.17% stake in Snapdeal, for which he invested close to $3.1 – $3.4 million.
After Snapdeal, Ratan Tata’s confidence in Indian ecommerce skyrocketed, as he made another investment soon: Bluestone. Interestingly, Tata Group owns a flagship jewelry brand Tanishq, and his investment into another jewelry startup surprised several industry veterans.
– Urban Ladder:
Last year in November, Ratan Tata invested in Urban Ladder, an ecommerce startup into furniture niche. Interestingly, Ratan had studied architecture at Cornwall University before joining Tata Group, and he always had an interest in this niche.
– Swasth India:
Tata invested Rs 2 crore in this health based startup, founded by ex-IITians in Mumbai
– CarDekho: Although Tata owns India’s biggest automobile company, Ratan Tata chose a niche portal which gives information about cars for his next investment. CarDekho.com certainly received a huge boost with Ratan Tata’s investment funds.
This was certainly big, almost equivalent of Snapdeal’s investment. Ratan Tata acquired a stake in PayTm by investing an undisclosed amount in this mobile commerce startup, where Alibaba had recently invested close to $500 billion.
– Grameen Capital:
Last month, Ratan Tata invested an undisclosed sum in Grameen, which a social impact startup helping small microfinance institutions in India. This was Tata’s first such investment in a social impact investment niche.
Ratan Tata’s latest investment in Xiaomi is certainly a new beginning in the startup investment space in India; and definitely a big boost for Xiaomi.