Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Technology Co. Ltd. announced on Wednesday a $3 million USD investment in Kunlun AI, a new company jointly established by Kunlun Tech’s Hong Kong subsidiary and a few undisclosed partners. Kunlun Tech will own a 15% stake in the new company.
Based in Palo Alto, California, Kunlun AI will develop big data and AI-driven corporate solutions in advertising, content recommendations, security, marketing, finance, and speech recognition, according to a press release. The company also claims to have pulled hires from well-known tech giants like Facebook, Dropbox, Pinterest, and Baidu.
“Our work in artificial intelligence is a long-term investment,” says Sophie Chen, a spokeperson from Kunlun Tech. “To put it into perspective, we’re investing in the future ten to twenty years from now. This is not something that will immediately yield profit. As you know, artificial intelligence is still in the basic stages of research and development.”
Kunlun Tech joins a growing number of Chinese companies, including Alibaba and Baidu, that are investing in the interconnected fields of big data, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. In January, Alicloud launched its Big Data Platform and announced a strategic partnership with NVIDIA, an American company known for its graphic processing units (GPUs) and chip units. According to a press release from AliCloud, the company will work with NVIDIA to create China’s first GPU-based cloud HPC (high performance computing) platform.
“It’s precisely because China’s biggest companies, like BAT, are doing this that we’re investing in AI,” says Ms. Chen. “That’s why we’re being proactive and taking a far-sighted view. If we enter this red ocean and only look three to five years ahead, we’re worried that we might lose to other internet companies.”
Besides moving forward in AI research and development, Kunlun Tech is also focusing on overseas expansion. In February, Kunlun Tech made a joint bid with Chinese search and antivirus company, Qihoo 360, to acquire Norwegian-based mobile browsing company Opera Software ASA. In January, Kunlun Tech also bought a 60% stake in Grindr, the world’s most popular gay social-networking app, and announced a $800,000 USD investment in an American robotics company, Woobo Inc..
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