Daily Management Review

SoftBank Vision Fund to invest $1 bln in Chinese surveillance startup


SoftBank Vision Fund is going to pour almost one billion dollars in Chinese SenseTime Group Ltd., as the fund wants to get a share in the world's most expensive AI startup. This is reported by Bloomberg.

The Man in Blue via flickr
The Man in Blue via flickr
The fund founded by the Japanese SoftBank Group Corp., and SenseTime haven't defined the deal’s terms yet, and details may change, the agency's interlocutors said.

SenseTime develops a face recognition system, contributing to an extensive surveillance system in China.

SoftBank regards China as one of the prevalent investment destinations of Vision Fund, which became the world's largest investor in technology. The organization has already invested in industries such as robotics, online commerce and semiconductor manufacturing.

The fund sent billions in the Chinese taxi service Didi Chuxing and acquired a share in ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co., which provides online insurance services.

Masayoshi Son, the founder of SoftBank, seeks to support a future that is dominated by artificial intelligence and data.

If the transaction takes place, SoftBank will join the list of the largest companies in the field of investment and technology, which supported the Chinese start-up.

Manufacturer of chips Qualcomm Inc. invested in SenseTime last year. The Singapore investment company Temasek Holdings Pte and the Internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. joined the April round of financing for $ 600 million. Silver Lake, Fidelity International and Tiger Global Management attended the June financing, which involved $ 620 mln, and this raised the startup’s price to nearly $ 4.5 bln.

In addition to identity verification and face recognition, SenseTime is engaged in developments in the field of augmented reality and autonomous driving.

The software, developed by SenseTime, is built into more than 100 million mobile devices. If a person was photographed on a Chinese-made smartphone or on a Chinese city street, he most likely got into the SenseTime surveillance system.

The company has been profitable since 2017, but it needs new investments to develop a service called Viper. It is a platform that analyzes video stream coming in real time from thousands of CCTV cameras, from traffic cameras to ATMs. It should process 100 thousand video broadcasts at a time.

Investors are investing billions of dollars in Chinese artificial intelligence startups, hoping to earn a lot of money, while the PRC government aims to make the country a leader in AI by 2030.

source: bloomberg.com