SenseTime, a leading Chinese leading facial and image recognition company, completed a $620 million Series C+ funding. The investors include Fidelity International and Tiger Global. Qualcomm Ventures participated in the financing too.
With the fresh capital injection, SenseTime now has a valuation of $4.5 billion. So far, SenseTime has received a total financing of more than $1.6 billion. SenseTime’s partners and customers include MIT, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Huawei, Xiaomi, and iFlytek.
While facial and image industry demonstrates strong market demand and future perspective, China’s AI recognition and AR market doesn’t see many players who own core advanced technologies. The situation is leading resources and attention to major players such as SenseTime. Not only industrial chain players would be willing to jointly cooperate with SenseTime, application segments of the industry are also eagerly looking for commercial practices.
As a result, SenseTime has achieved profitability in the year 2017. For the last three consecutive years, SenseTime has upheld a year-on-year growth rate of 400% . By May 2018, business contract revenue of SenseTime has increased by more than 10-fold.
The success is also hugely due to China’s increasing use of facial and image recognition technology for public security sectors. The company is now in agreement with administrative cooperations with China’s largest subway operator Shanghai Shentong Metro Group for traffic monitoring.
However, the market doesn’t see SenseTime as the only solution provider. Face++, another China’s leading image solution and recognition company, is also absorbing huge resources including a USD 460 million Series C funding. Hikvision, China’s leading security and surveillance product researcher and manufacture, has close ties with the Chinese government.
Huge capital injection into China’s unicorns is common. What remains to be seen is the unicorns’ capability to sustain technological advantage and growth. While commercial profitability is not always investors and the market’s short time concern, it’s still crucial to achieve sufficiency, particularly when the government plays active roles in the industry’s business and R&D.