China’s SenseTime, the world’s highest-valued AI startup, closes $620M follow-on round | Tech News
SenseTime, the world’s highest-valued AI company with a valuation of over $4.5 billion, is back in the money again.
The company raised $600 million in an Alibaba-led financing round announced last month, and now it has added a further $620 million to that with a “Series C+” round announced today.
Alibaba led the previous deal, and this time around the investors include more traditional names such as Fidelity International, Hopu Capital, Silver Lake and Tiger Global. Qualcomm, which previously backed the firm, was also in this round, SenseTime confirmed.
The new money takes SenseTime to $1.6 billion from investors to date. The valuation has remained “over” $4.5 billion across both of these recent rounds, according to the company. It was previously valued at $1.5 billion when it raised a $410 million Series B last year.
Alibaba said at the time of its investment last month that it had become the largest-single investor in SenseTime. Given this fresh injection, it isn’t clear whether that has changed. A SenseTime spokesperson told TechCrunch that “Alibaba and other lead investors have similar status.”
SenseTime said it has more than 700 customers across a range of verticals including fintech, automotive, smartphones, smart city development and more that include Honda, Nvidia, China’s UnionPay, Weibo, China Merchants Bank, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi.
Perhaps its most visible partner is the Chinese government, which uses its systems for its national surveillance system. SenseTime process data captured by China’s 170 million CCTV cameras and newer systems which include smart glasses worn by police offers on the street.
China has placed vast emphasis on tech development, with AI one of its key flagposts.
A government program aims to make the country the world leader in AI technology by 2030, the New York Times reported, by which time it is estimated that the industry could be worth some $150 billion per year. SenseTime’s continued development fees directly into that ambition.
SenseTime has been busy extending its presence lately. It became the first company to join the MIT Intelligence Quest and, alongside Alibaba, it is launching an AI lab in Hong Kong. The firm said, too, it has formulated an AI textbook for secondary students in China which will make its way to 40 schools soon.