Chinese facial recognition technology‎ developer raises $410M

SenseTime has completed a US$410 million series B round, in what the Chinese startup claims is the largest private financing rounds ever closed by an artificial intelligence firm, according to a report by China Money Network.

Founded in 2014, SenseTime focuses on computer vision and deep learning technologies, providing applications in the areas of face recognition, language recognition, vehicle recognition, object recognition and image processing.

The startup said it is now valued at over RMB10 billion (US$1.47 billion). As a result, SenseTime joins the 107 companies that are part of China Money Network’s China Unicorn Ranking, which has an aggregated value of US$445.66 billion.

The financing round is comprised of a series B1 round, which was led by Chinese private equity firm CDH Investments, and a B2 round led by Chinese investment firm Sailing Capital.

SenseTime previously raised US$120 million last December and US$60 million in April, both of which were part of the series B round, as well as a series A financing round led by IDG Capital.

Almost 20 investors participated in this latest financing round, including China International Capital Co., Co-Stone Capital, China Merchants Securities International, Morningside Venture Capital, Everbright-IDG Industrial Fund, Advantech Capital, Zhongping Guoyu Asset Management, Huarong International Financial Holdings Ltd., TCL Capital and Infore Group.

“The US$410 million series B round will be used to deepen our research of technology innovation, to expand our product lines and explore new applications in verticals such as autonomous driving,” Xu Li, SenseTime founder and CEO, said. “We will also strengthen cooperation with both upstream and downstream partners to explore more applications (of our technology).”

SenseTime currently provides over 400 companies with AI capabilities, including China Mobile, HNA Group, Huawei, Xiaomi, Sina and JD.com.

“China was able to create world-class companies like Alibaba and Tencent during the Internet age. We hope to see Chinese AI giants in the age of artificial intelligence,” said Wu Shangzhi, chairman of CDH Investments. “CDH will support China’s largest AI company SenseTime to give birth to a world-leading AI conglomerate.”

Previously reported, SenseTime was one of several AI firms that participated in tests conducted by the University of Massachusetts’ facial recognition technology benchmark Labeled Faces in the Wild (LFW).

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