Alibaba wants the biggest stake in facial recognition startup SenseTime
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Alibaba wants the biggest stake in facial recognition startup SenseTime

Chinese Ecommerce titan Alibaba is looking to become the biggest investor in SenseTime, a Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) startup working on facial recognition software. According to a person who is familiar with the matter, but would rather not be named, Alibaba is in talks to invest about $227 million – but it isn’t looking to exert control over the smaller company. SenseTime claims to be valued at “more than $2 billion”, and is widely regarded as one of the “more advanced players” when it comes to machine vision technology.

Alibaba’s share price is up by 104% so far this year

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SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Facial recognition is an exciting area for AI at the moment: the technology is being adopted by financial services, retailers, and police surveillance. If Alibaba pulls this deal off, owner Jack Ma will have a significant interest in the area, as Alipay-operator Ant Financial already has a stake in Megvii Inc.’s Face++. However, the company has declined a request for comment.

The Chinese government is on an AI push at the moment. It’s created a national plan that it hopes will make the country “the leader in the industry” by 2030. And just five years later, Beijing expects it to create 400 billion yuan in economic activity. China’s homegrown tech titans are keen to oblige, with Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu all investing heavily in the field.

Disclosure

Dominion holds Alibaba in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.


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