AISpeech $58M funding round highlights China’s continuing interest in speech recognition
Speech recognition player AISpeech Company Ltd. this month received RMB 410 million (US$58 million) in a series E round, led by venture-capital firm CTC Capital Partners. The biometrics firm is based in Suzhou, Jiangsu.
Much of the news of late about artificial intelligence out of China involves facial recognition, but this placement, and AISpeech’s rumored desire for an initial public offering, illustrates that voice recognition has not been forgotten by the government or private investors.
Goldstone Investment Co. Ltd. and BAIC Capital also participated in the tranche. BAIC is the investment arm of BAIC Group, a Chinese government-owned carmaker, according to Singapore-based financials publisher DealStreetAsia. Goldstone Investment is a unit of private-equity player Citic Securities.
AISpeech’s software recognizes speech and analyzes voice tone. The company also has developed a dialog-management application, which is responsible for the state and flow of a conversation occurring through a speech system.
Its algorithms are built into goods produced by Alibaba, Xiaomi and Lenovo. They also are finding their way into car operating systems, home furniture and home appliances. The company reports a 300 percent increase in revenue over the past three years, and has a clear plan for an initial public offering (IPO), according to China Money Network. The company released the TH1520 voice recognition AI chip in 2019, along with SMIC.
According to investment publisher Crunchbase Inc., AISpeech has raised a total of $179.2 million for its work commercializing speech recognition systems that analyze voice tone. The company’s list of previous investors is relatively lengthy and made up entirely of private firms. The biggest name on the list is Taiwanese Foxconn Technology Group.
The alpha among China’s speech recognition companies is iFlytek, which is partly owned by the authoritarian national government, according to DealStreetAsia.
Another player, Beijing Unisound Information Technology Co. Ltd., uses cloud computing and mobile networks to deliver speech services. It also has backing from the national government. China’s Ministry of Finance led Unisound’s series C.
Interestingly, the company also attracted series D funding from New York-based mid-market private-equity firm Wellspring Capital Management, Crunchbase has reported.