Chinese firm SenseTime has become the world’s most valuable artificial intelligence (AI) startup with an estimated $4.5 billion in valuation. The facial recognition technology company raised $600 million in a series-C funding round led by Alibaba Group. Other investors in the company include e-commerce company Suning.com and Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM). SenseTime offered no official confirmation on its valuation numbers.
SenseTime specializes in facial recognition technology, video analysis and it is even involved in the area of autonomous driving. The company is seeing rapid growth as the artificial intelligence sector sees a boom. China is investing heavily in AI, and the government is focused on growing this industry’s value to more than $60 billion over the next seven years.
Alibaba is said to be the most significant stakeholder in SenseTime, and the e-commerce giant expects the significant benefits from its ongoing investments in AI to continue going forward.
Investments are increasing in the areas of self-driving vehicles, virtual and augmented reality and along with this, China is developing technologies that are expected to aid in mass surveillance, something the country deems necessary for national security purposes despite opposition from liberals. China is said to have some of the best technologies in facial recognition. There are many aspects of AI that are said to have significant potential regarding investment and growth, and China is increasing its focus on them.
SenseTime has been toying with the idea for an IPO for a long time but is waiting for some favorable listing rules to be implemented in China.