China’s SenseTime announces US$600 million Series C, Alibaba leads

China’s leading AI company SenseTime (商汤科技) announced on 9 April 2018 it has secured a Series C round of investment worth US$600 million, which it claims, makes it now the most valuable AI company in the world.

SenseTime claims to have the largest Deep Learning super computing center in China and has many developed proprietary AI technologies in face recognition, image recognition, autopilot, human-computer interaction, medical imaging and Deep Learning hardware optimization. Since its founding in 2014, SenseTime has secured partnerships with many international MNCs such as Qualcomm, Honda and MIT. In China, it provides AI solutions in various applications involving public security, transportation, smart phones and finance, counting among its 400 domestic partners and clients big enterprises such as China Mobile, UnionPay, Vanda, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, iFlytek, Sina Weibo etc.

SenseTime deeply impresses with its AI development capabilities and technology, especially in Deep Learning and Computer Vision. — Cai Chongxin, EVP of Alibaba Group

Just last year in July, SenseTime secured a Series B round, raising US$410 million. The investment for the current C round was led by Alibaba Group, which included other institutional investors like Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek Holdings and Suning (苏宁). Suning is a leading retailer with more than 1,600 stores in China and a B2C e-commerce platform considered among the top three in the mainland.

Three-pronged Strategy Ahead

Sensetime Co-founder and CEO Xu Li said that the company will be focusing on a three-prong strategy ahead. First, they will focus on developing proprietary technology as its core competency. Second, it will be looking to partner with industry leaders around the world to develop its commercial footprint. Third, it will strengthen and deepen its positioning in the entire AI industry vertical.

“SenseTime deeply impresses with its AI development capabilities and technology, especially in Deep Learning and Computer Vision. Alibaba’s investment in AI is already producing clear results in our group’s businesses. We will continue to invest in AI and we look forward to our strategic cooperation with SenseTime to produce even more innovation and value to society,” said Cai Chongxin, EVP of Alibaba Group.

Smart retail is essentially about digitizing the core elements of retail and making retail operations ‘intelligent’. — Sun Weimin, Vice Chairman of Suning e-Commerce

Sun Weimin, Vice Chairman of Suning e-Commerce said, “Smart retail is essentially about digitizing the core elements of retail and making retail operations ‘intelligent’. As such AI will become increasingly important to smart retail. As a leading AI company in China, its proprietary technology and vision of building a commercial AI ecosystem is in line with Suning’s smart retail strategy. With this cooperation, Suning will be applying AI to the retail ecosystem. Through the use of scenario-based internet, AI technology will benefit from retail big data and in turn bring about even more intimate consumption experiences for consumers.”

War Chest for Taking on the World

Bringing on board world class investors like Alibaba, Temasek and Suning will provide SenseTime even more opportunities for applying its solutions and expanding its overseas footprint. This C round will finance strengthening of its market presence in security, mobile, autonomous driving and interactive entertainment, as well as accelerate technology expansion and development in retail, finance and education SenseTime announces US$600 million Series C, becomes world’s most valuable AI companyetc.