Alibaba Group, the reputed China based eCommerce firm, has invested nearly USD 600 million in SenseTime Group Limited, an AI facial recognition Chinese startup firm. Through this funding, claim sources, SenseTime seems to have become world’s most valuable AI startup. Incidentally, the company has also raised over USD 3 billion from other investors across the globe. The Series C funding round, which was held recently, witnessed the participation of the key investors such as Suning.com Co. and Temasek Holdings. Alibaba is reportedly the largest investor.
SenseTime has been reported to be creating a service code referred as Viper, a tool that can provide valuable support to mass surveillance activities. The firm has decided to develop five supercomputers across the top-tier cities in 2018 to promote Viper along with other services. Incidentally, last year, Qualcomm Inc. had invested in SenseTime and announced its decision to jointly work with the latter on Artificial Intelligence. Now, with this funding, SenseTime also aims to target other fields of interest, such as autonomous driving and augmented reality.
It has been speculated that SenseTime may also be discussing about yet another round of fund-raising, as it ultimately plans to attract investments worth over USD 4.5 billion from global investors. According to Xu Li, the co-founder of SenseTime, the firm is going to invest the funds on building strong infrastructure facilities. He further stated the average income growth of SenseTime over the last three years was estimated at nearly 400%, a substantially praiseworthy accomplishment for a four-year-old startup.
Reports cite that SenseTime is the largest among many of the private AI startup firms in China. Last year, Megvii Inc., a facial recognition startup, had raised nearly USD 460 million. Smaller companies Malong Technologies and Yitu had also seemingly received funds from the investors, but lesser as compared to SenseTime, cite sources.