Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) developer Megvii, commonly known as Face++, announced that it raised $750 million in fresh funding, at a valuation reportedly topping $4 billion, according to Reuters.
Megvii is also apparently prepping for an initial public offering for later this year.
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Bank of China Group Investment (BOCGI) Ltd., the state bank’s private equity arm, led the financing with a $200 million contribution, Reuters reported. Macquarie Group, ICBC Asset Management (Global) Co. and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and existing backer Alibaba Group also reportedly participated in this round.
Since it was founded in 2011, Megvii has raised a total of $1.4 billion, according to its Crunchbase profile.
The financing coincides with rising adoption of its facial recognition technology, along with concerns about impacts on privacy. SenseTime, also a China-based AI company focused on facial recognition, has raised a total of $2.6 billion over time. Last September, it brought in a $1 billion Series D that valued the company at $6 billion.
As our Holden Page wrote in 2017, facial and image recognition technology has proven to be a critical capability in recent years. It’s a feature that has made its way as a main selling point in the iPhone, and startups involved in the space are banking large sums of money on their ability to identify users and their devices.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias