Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) startup Aibee closed a fundraising round of about $100 million that pushed its valuation to more than $1 billion, making it a unicorn, according to a Thursday (March 17) Bloomberg report.
Smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp led the funding effort, with participation from China Merchants Capital Management Co., according to a press release on Aibee’s official WeChat account, which didn’t include details about the size of their investment.
Aibee has secured prior investments from Sequoia Capital China and Lenovo Group Ltd. It could pursue an initial public offering (IPO) after the latest injection of fresh capital, but no decision has been made, according to the report.
The company develops speech recognition, computer vision, natural language processing and Big Data analysis, according to its website.
China Merchants Capital, the private equity arm of China Merchants Group and GLP Pte, has more than 300 billion yuan ($47 billion) in assets under management, according to the company press release.
Aibee is incorporating AI into China Merchants Group’s shopping mall in Shekou, Shenzhen, and China Merchants Bank, the press release says.
Aibee has partnerships with Chinese airports in Beijing and Shanghai, according to its website, and its employees work in offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in addition to U.S. locations in Seattle and Palo Alto, California.
Related: China Monitoring Metaverse Activity
Meanwhile, China regulators are expected to keep a close eye on developments across the metaverse—a network of 3D virtual worlds that make social connections—across the nation, banning certain content, issuing warnings and imposing high fines when companies go astray.
Goldman Sachs estimated the metaverse could be worth $8 billion globally. But last month, Morgan Stanley upped the stakes when it predicted China’s metaverse sector would be worth that much by itself.
The Bank of China’s securities arm recently published a report that said the metaverse is a “potential path to common prosperity, and the evolution of the metaverse-related organizational route cannot be separated from the top of the government.”
Last month, a notice by the Chinese Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission listed four methods used to scammers acting as metaverse developers, including enticing investors with promises of integrating artificial intelligence and virtual reality, with the thieves vanishing after they get the money.