Founded in 2014, SenseTime, China’s leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) company has raised $600 million in Series C with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd leading the round. Other participants include Singapore state fund Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd. and Chinese e-commerce company Suning.Com Co Ltd.
In a statement released by SenseTime, Li Xu, SenseTime Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, claims, “SenseTime has established an AI ecosystem anchored with robust research, deep industry collaboration, and diverse partnerships. Our Round C funding will maximise these advantages by accelerating the development of a global footprint with a larger ecosystem incorporating both domestic and overseas partners. The funding will also help us widen the scope for more industrial application of AI, thus increasing the value of SenseTime’s global ecosystem.”
The latest round of funding will be used by the company for further tech innovation and opening new business possibilities by the dual-based company. It is based in Beijing and Hong Kong.
In the statement shared by SenseTime, the Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group, Joe Tsai shares, "SenseTime is doing pioneering work in artificial intelligence. We are especially impressed by its R&D capabilities in deep learning and visual computing. Our business at Alibaba is already seeing tangible benefits from our investments in AI and we are committed to further investment. Our strategic partnership with SenseTime will spark more innovation and create value for society.”
Currently, SenseTime provides face recognition technology to hundreds of companies from security to financial to vehicle and image recognition to mobile internet companies including Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Xiaomi Inc. and JD.com Inc., China Union Pay and claims that its error rate is below one in 100,000 and that's one of the things that makes the company stand out.
Last year in July the company raised $410 million in Series B which valued the company at over $1.5 billion. The investment was led by China’s CDH Investments and state-backed fund Sailing Capital. With its latest round, SenseTime’s set a new record for funding in AI sector.
The company claims that with the partnerships it has established with leading domestic and international enterprises across sectors such as smartphone, retails, robotics, mobile internet etc. and by “broadening the possibilities of data technology and its application across industries across industries, the company has the potential to provide a technological leap for a range of verticals and serve as their close partner in AI transformation.”
Bloomberg values SenseTime at more than $3 billion, calling it the most valuable AI startup. SenseTime is undoubtedly China’s largest AI platform company and AI algorithms supplier.
The Global AI market will be worth about $190 billion by 2025 according to a report by MarketsandMarkets a business analytics and research platform. And China has already taken over the US in terms of funding available for startups. A recent report by data analysis and research firm CB Insights has revealed that 48 percent of the world’s total AI startup funding is concentrated in China, as against 38 percent in the US.
The latest SenseTime funding just adds to this data and shows that AI companies stand to gain more attention in terms of funding. Meanwhile, SenseTime is leading the race.