Fledgling Chinese smart phone maker Xiaomi achieved the rank as the world’s most valuable technology upstart this week with the completion of a US$1.1 billion financing round that boosted the company’s value to $45 billion.  

Since its establishment in 2010, Xiaomi has soared past Samsung and Apple as the top vendor of smart phones in the lucrative Chinese wireless market, where more than 500 million smart phones—or three times the number projected for sale in the U.S.—are expected to be sold in the New Year.  Xiaomi has also claimed the spot as the world’s third-largest manufacturer of wireless devices due mainly to the company’s strategy of marketing low-cost, high-quality smart phones that appeal to the growing ranks of young, affluent Chinese subscribers.  After a mere four years in business, Xiaomi’s market value now appears to exceed that of Sony and Nokia.  Observers also say Xiaomi has aspirations to expand beyond China and to bring its products to large, developing markets such as India and Brazil.  

Announced Monday in a microblog post by company founder Lei Jun, the latest funding round for privately-held Xiaomi includes investments from All-Stars Investment, Ltd., Russian investment concern DST Global, Singapore-based GIC Ptd. Ltd., and Yunfeng Capital, a private equity group affiliated with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.  Describing his company’s success in attracting investors as “an affirmation of Xiaomi’s achievements,” Lei heralded the funding round as “a prelude to a new stage of development.”