SenseTime, the most valuable artificial intelligence (AI) startup in the world, is getting ready for a financing round that could amount to $2 billion, according to Bloomberg. The firm, which already has huge global investment partners like the Alibaba Group, is currently working with advisors about the money.
“SenseTime is doing pioneering work in artificial intelligence,” said Joe Tsai, Alibaba Group’s executive vice chairman, at the time. “We are especially impressed by their 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.”
The firm, based in Beijing, raised $1.2 billion last year alone, and was valued at $4.5 billion in May. Funding partners also include Fidelity International, Silver Lake Partners and HOPU Capital.
SenseTime focuses on systems to analyze faces and images on a huge scale, and works with policing entities. It also works with retailers and healthcare researchers, across the country and beyond. It’s experienced massive growth — 400 percent in the past few years. The company is involved in everything from cameras in retail stores to Honda’s driverless cars.
The Chinese government wants to be a world leader in AI technology by the year 2030, so investors are giving billions to Chinese AI startups, hoping to ride support from the government. In addition to SenseTime, AI startup Face++ is garnering much attention.
The problem is that the excitement is causing all kinds of industries to claim that AI is an integral part of their businesses, including everything from video services to schools that teach languages. In fact, investors are worried there could be a downturn in funding if companies don’t deliver revenue.