We already knew Xiaomi had scored $90 million RMB in new financing — they announced that at their press conference with China Unicom on Tuesday — but Lei Jun has now revealed on Weibo where at least some of that money came from: DST founder Yuri Milner.
DST is an investment company, and its name draws a fair amount of attention because it has made some very smart bets in tech companies over the years, including Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, Spotify, and 360Buy. There are also rumors the company continues to flirt with Sina Weibo, although given the regulatory changes going into effect there that might be less of a sure thing. In any event, the Xiaomi investment was made personally by Mr. Milner, not by DST.
In other Xiaomi news, we’ve received some clarifications from the company in response to our questions about their cooperation with China Unicom. According to a Xiaomi rep, the China Unicom phones are the same as the phones Xiaomi sells on their site, the only differences being the addition of Unicom’s “Wo” branding and pre-installed content (and, of course, the 700 RMB markup). Xiaomi also told us the phones were available in Unicom stores in major cities starting Tuesday afternoon. However, I was in a Unicom shop in Beijing on Wednesday and saw no signs of Xiaomi’s handset, nor any kind of advertisement for the phone, so it’s still not as easy to get a hold of a Xiaomi as you might hope.
Still, the immediate availability of millions of Xiaomi phones via China Unicom probably does explain how the company managed to run out of the things so quickly on its own website.