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Chinese AI Startup SenseTime Raises $1.2 Bn In Just 6 Months


China-based SenseTime Group Ltd, the world’s most valued AI startup, has raised $1.2 billion in last 6 months. The firm raised $620 million from Silver Lake Partners, Fidelity International, and other investors in its latest round of funding. The three-year-old company’s valuation is currently pegged at a whopping $4.5 billion.

It secured a similar amount of investment in a funding round led by Alibaba Group Holding, and Singapore’s state investment firm Temasek, a few months ago. With the latest funding, the company has raised a total of $1.2 billion in less than a year. In an official press release, SenseTime said, “The latest funding will go toward research and talent acquisition”.

Founded in 2014, SenseTime provides face recognition technology, to a variety of clients both in private and public sector. It also provides text, vehicle and image recognition to clients of varied industries including mobile internet and financial services. According to a report by IndustryWeek, the company claims to have experienced 400% growth in the each of the past 3 years. Also, the business contract revenue has seen a 10 fold increase so far this year, according to a statement.

While funding galore the AI start-ups, some investors are wary of the exuberance surrounding the sector and if the AI star-ups do not live up to the growth expectations, the valuations may start to dwindle slowly.

Many international investors are turning towards China-based AI startups after the dragon country announced its aim of becoming the world leader in Artificial Intelligence by 2030, a position currently led by the US.

As recently as Feb this year, Taiwan based Foxconn, the iPhone assembly partner, and a key supplier of Apple, has announced its plans of investing in Artificial Intelligence.

Fang-ming Lu (Executive VP, Foxconn) then said in a statement, “Our investment for R&D and technology investment absolutely won’t be weak. We hope in the next few years to invest TWD$10 billion (or US$342 million) in artificial intelligence (AI) and related spheres of industrial internet.”

He added, “We have an AI team but it’s still not enough. We need more and more talent”

With the shortage of AI talent across the board, companies are competing to invest in building skills and nurturing the workforce for future demand.

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