(Yicai Global) Jan. 18 -- Capital continues to favor artificial Intelligence start-ups. In addition to venture capital funds, some traditional investment funds, including sovereign wealth funds, are also showing interest.
Singapore-based sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd. has invested in Rokid Corp., an AI developer headquartered in Hangzhou in Southeast China’s Zhejiang province.
This round of funding for Rokid is about USD100 million. Temasek, Credit Suisse Group AG, Taiwan-based CDIB Capital (International) Corp., and IDG Capital all participated in the session. This marks the first time Credit Suisse and CDIB have participated in financing in the AI field in China, people familiar with the matter told Yicai Global.
Established in 2014, Rokid is an innovative technology company developing family service robots and smart speaker robots. The intelligent automata can recall the different preferences of family members and provide personalized information and music through facial and voiceprint recognition.
Rokid founder Zhu Mingming formerly worked for the research and development unit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., while Wang Shunde, the company’s co-founder and chief financial officer, also worked for Alibaba. Observers have waited to learn whether Alibaba will invest in or even acquire the firm.
Baidu Inc., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba have all contacted Rokid regarding investment, but the company intends to preserve its independence, and thus Temasek was the better choice, Wang said in an interview with Yicai Global.
Temasek has made many investments in China’s internet sector, including in technology companies such as Alibaba, Didi Chuxing and Mobike. With the valuations of Chinese high-tech companies rising in recent years, the traditional private equity investment firm has also shifted its focus to other sectors, such as its investment in the Series B round for smart car developer NIO.
Temasek still has few investments in the AI sector, however, public information shows.
Temasek has been watching the major players in China’s AI field. The company cast its eyes toward Rokid at the start of last year. The two firms held substantive talks in mid-year, and it took about three months to conduct the due diligence, Wang said. Rokid is still in its major investment phase, and the proceeds will mainly go to research and development, introduction of talent, strategic promotion, and investment in its industrial chain, Wang added.