28. Xiaomi

A $100 billion iPhone competitor, any day now.

Founder: Lei Jun (CEO)
Launched: 2010
Headquarters: Beijing
$1.4 billion (PitchBook)
Valuation: $46 billion (PitchBook)
Key technology:
Artificial intelligence
Mobile phones

George Kavallines | CNBC

Xiaomi, China's smartphone giant, could soon be competing with the likes of Apple and Samsung here in the United States. The company was started in Beijing in 2010 by Lei Jun, a serial entrepreneur. Since then, it's expanded into Asia, Africa and parts of Europe. Popularity of the phones took off because Xiaomi's devices offer the same high performance of those from Apple and Samsung but cost a lot less. The company's top-selling Redmi phone, for instance, goes for about $150. Its expansion into India — the second-largest smartphone market after China — is especially noteworthy because it recently passed Samsung to take over the top sales spot there.

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Now the company is eyeing the U.S. market. In March, CEO Lei Jun told the Wall Street Journal that it plans to start selling its phones here by the end of this year, or early 2019. The company is also reportedly considering an IPO during the second half of this year. If that happens, it could be the world's biggest tech float this year — valuing the company at up to $100 billion, Thomson Reuters reported.

The American market isn't totally new to the company. It began selling accessories here a few years ago and inked a deal with Microsoft in 2015 to test Windows 10 on Xiaomi devices. The company has raised an eye-popping $3.4 billion in equity and debt financing from Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase and Ratan Tata, chairman of the holding company that owns India's Tata Motors, Tata Steel and others.