China’s computer vision startup SenseTime today announced it had raised US$620 million in Series C+ funding, a mere 50 days after it closed its Series C funding with US$600 million. The company’s fundraising to date totals a staggering US$1.6 billion, and establishes SenseTime as the world’s most valuable AI startup, with an estimated worth of US$4.5 billion.
Founded in 2014 by Dr. Xiao’ou Tang, a Professor of Information Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), SenseTime uses deep learning in the development of computer vision to replicate tasks performed by the human visual system.
In today’s announcement, SenseTime billed itself as a fully-profitable company since 2017, with AI solutions successfully applied to smart cities, phones, entertainment, automotive, finance, retail and other industries. The four-year-old company has recorded annual growth of 400 percent for three consecutive years.
SenseTime Co-Founder and CEO Xu Li told Synced the company set up an R&D team of 200 scientists during its first two years. The investment quickly paid off, as the team came up with the advanced deep learning framework Parrots and China’s largest deep learning supercomputing center, powered by 8,000 GPUs.
SenseTime’s AI technologies have been transformed into a number of marketable software solutions:
- SenseFace 3.0, a facial recognition surveillance platform;
- SenseFoundry, a smart urban vision platform;
- SenseAR, an AR rendering engine and platform;
- SenseMedia, a deep learning-based content review system;
- SenseDrive, a driver monitor system.
Interestingly, along with its ambitious moves in the tech and business worlds, SenseTime also prioritizes local AI initiatives such as the non-profit AI lab it recently-launched in Hong Kong in partnership with e-commerce giant Alibaba — which led SenseTime’s Series C funding — in a bid to transform the city into a global AI hub.
This April the Chinese Ministry of Education released its first AI textbook for high school students, and the lead author is SenseTime’s Dr. Tang. SenseTime developed an online system for students to practice what they’ve learned in each chapter.
SenseTime said it will direct the new funding to R&D in a bid to take the lead in the AI innovation market both in China and globally.
Journalist: Tony Peng | Editor: Michael Sarazen