Ant Financial, the financial arm of China’s Alibaba, and Samsung Group, the South Korean consumer electronics giant, led a $40 million fundraising round for DeePhi Tech, the Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) startup.
According to news from the China Money Network, China Merchants Capital and China Growth Capital also took part in the Series A+ round of venture capital fundraising.
Samsung is interested in DeePhi’s neural network-based AI chipsets that go into portable devices. With them, there is instant speech recognition, neural language processing and other tasks for mobile devices and smartphones. The report noted that Samsung has already invested in another AI startup — Graphcore of the U.K. — which happened last October. According to the report, DeePhi had previously turned down an investment from SK Telecom, the South Korean wireless phone carrier.
“We are optimistic about DeePhi’s leading technology and development,” said Wayne Shiong, a partner at China Growth Capital in the report. “We believe with the support from the company’s global partners, like Ant Financial, Samsung, Xilinx Inc. and MediaTek Inc., DeePhi will become an important player in the artificial intelligence industry.”
The venture capital will help develop more products in security surveillance and Big Data, noted the report. In May, DeePhi raised a round of funding which was reportedly worth tens of millions of dollars from Tsinghua Holdings Corp., Ltd., Sigma Square Capital, Xilinx Inc., MediaTek Inc., GSR Ventures and Banyan Capital — the latter two of which already invested in the Chinese AI startup.
The move on the part of Samsung to invest in an AI startup comes at a time when the company is enhancing Bixby, its digital voice-activated assistant, and is facing a challenge from Apple, which is about to launch the iPhone X, a smartphone that will have an AI chip built into the device.