AI based companies are some of the most sought after places for investors as the technology will undoubtedly affect almost every industry in future. And now, China’s SenseTime, a company founded in 2014, has raised another $600 million thanks to investments from Alibaba and other investors to become world’s most valuable artificial intelligence start-up.
SenseTime, a company that specializes in systems that analyzes faces and images on an enormous scale, recently closed a Series C rounds in recent months in which Singaporean state investment firm Temasek and retailer Suning.com also participated during the round. While SenseTime didn’t disclose any figure, Alibaba now has the biggest stake in the start-up.
Thanks to the deal, SenseTime has doubled its valuation in just couple of months. However, the deal shouldn’t come off as a surprise given that the company follows Beijing’s ambition to become the leader in AI by 2030. On the other side of spectrum, the company will be a contributor to the world’s biggest system of surveillance. For instance, if you’ve ever been photographed with a Chinese-made phone or walked the streets of a Chinese city, chances are your face has been digitally crunched by SenseTime software built into more than 100 million mobile devices.
With the latest investment, the company is said to jump into investments in other AI related fields such as autonomous driving and augmented reality. At the moment, the company is developing a service code-named “Viper” to parse data from thousands of live camera feeds – a platform it hopes will prove invaluable in mass surveillance. One source close to the matter told TechCrunch that the company is already in talks to raise another rounds of funds to bring valuation of the company up to $4.5 billion.
Talking about the latest funding, SenseTime co-founder Xu Li said, “We’re going to explore several new strategic directions and that’s why we shall spend more money on building infrastructure. For the past three years the average revenue growth has been 400 per cent.”
Despite its young state, the company turned profitable in 2017 and unsurprisingly, it wants to grow its workforce by a third to 2,000 by end of 2018.