Smartphone Country

As Xiaomi goes public, the man who built its Indian arm from scratch is set to make a fortune

Manu Kumar Jain is the vice president and managing director of Xiaomi India and has the third-highest employee stock ownership plan in the company.

Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi’s initial public offering is likely to make at least one Indian a lot wealthier: Manu Kumar Jain, vice president and managing director of the company’s India arm.

Xiaomi has announced plans for a $10 billion stock market debut in Hong Kong, which could value the company at around $100 billion. Jain, who is the only Indian on Xiaomi’s board, holds 2.3 million shares allotted under the employee stock ownership plan, making him the third-highest employee stock ownership plan holder in the company.

Jain, who joined Xiaomi in October 2014, is the man behind the brand’s overwhelming success in India, a region that helped propel the company’s recent growth. In January 2017, Jain took the additional role of Xiaomi’s vice president after Hugo Barra left the company to join Facebook.

Slam DINK

The 37-year-old mechanical engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, has had an unusual career.

In 2011, he gave up a four-year stint at McKinsey & Company to co-create the DINK Couple comics, a cartoon series that started out as stories of a “Double Income No Kids” couple and evolved into “Double Income Naughty Kid” after Jain and his wife had a baby.

The same year, Jain co-founded online fashion retail portal Jabong in the pursuit of his passion for entrepreneurship. In an interview in 2016, he said that he always wanted to be an entrepreneur and even his job at McKinsey was a part of the plan.

“Most people take up investment banking jobs over consultancy roles because the former pays a lot more. I always wanted to be associated with things that are entrepreneurial in nature and hence chose to work with a consultancy firm,” he said.

From February 2012 to January 2014, he served as managing director of Jabong, which had by then become one of the sector leaders. (Jabong is now owned by India’s largest e-commerce firm, Flipkart, which bought it in 2016 for $70 million.)

Jain at Xiaomi

Jain landed the job at Xiaomi when his former McKinsey colleague Navin Tewari, the co-founder and CEO of InMobi, put him in touch with the company’s co-founder Bin Lin. The appointment was finalised during just one short trip to China.

And his task was cut out: Jain had to build the company in India from scratch.

“I was the only employee for the first three months and for first two months, I did not even have an office. My first office was six by four feet and I used to open the office myself,” Jain said in an interview with Business World earlier this year. “It had happened many times that I am serving tea to the investors in the meeting and I used to talk about deals worth hundred crores. The investors used to look at me like I am talking about a Ponzi scheme. They used to ask me that how big is your team and I told them I am the only person.”

From there, Jain has brought Xiaomi a long way.

Under his leadership, the company has captured 31% of India’s smartphone market in just two years. He has been instrumental in crafting a successful strategy, including launching affordable products, staging online-only debuts while ensuring robust offline retail channels, and building a strong supply chain.

Data: Counterpoint Research
Data: Counterpoint Research

“India represents our largest market outside of mainland China and is an example of the success we achieved in international expansion,” Xiaomi said in its IPO document. The brand knocked down long-time leaderboard-topper Samsung to become number one in 50 major Indian cities.

Xiaomi has also expanded its product line in the country. It started selling TVs in India earlier this year.

The company has established manufacturing capabilities in India and makes over 75% of the handsets it sells in the country in two of its plants, run in partnership with Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, in Andhra Pradesh. “There might also come a day when we launch products first in India and also design and develop products exclusively for India,” Jain told Business Standard in March 2018. “Eventually we want to manufacture everything in India.”

This article first appeared on Quartz.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.