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Rokid, a Chinese startup that makes an AI voice assistant and smart devices, just raised a Series B extension round led by Temasek Holdings, with participation from Credit Suisse, IDG Capital and CDIB Capital. The size of the round was not released, but a source familiar with the deal told TechCrunch that it is $100 million. The company's previous funding was its Series B round, which was announced in November 2016. Founder and chief executive officer Mingming Zhu says Rokid raised a Series B instead of a C round because the company, which is based in Hangzhou, China with research centers in Beijing and San Francisco that develop its proprietary natural language processing, image processing, face recognition and robotics technology, is still in its early stages. Rokid wants to focus on gathering more resources and bringing in strategic investors like Temasek Holdings before moving on to a Series C.
Decades in the making, Canadian research in fields such as neural networking and machine learning is now coming into its own, as centres like the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms and Toronto's Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence are propelling vibrant ecosystems and startup communities, while government is doing its part through immigration policies geared towards attracting new talent and programs like the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which will devote $125 million in federal dollars to AI research over the next five years. We've seen significant investment from venture capital, too, with the current boom in VC funding for Canadian tech companies having a lot to do with movements in the AI space. And as more and more companies start to incorporate AI technologies, the field keeps growing. But where are the AI investment winners, you ask? Here are five stocks that analysts say have significant upsides.
Indonesian artificial intelligence based chatbot platform Kata.ai has reportedly secured $3.5 Mn in a Series A funding round led by the Taiwanese Trans-Pacific Technology Fund (TPTF). The investors that participated in the round are Korea-based Access Ventures, MDI Ventures, VPG Asia, and Convergence Ventures, the VC arm of Indonesian state-run telecommunications provider Telkom. The Series A funding round also saw participation from Red Sails Investment and angel investor Eddy Chan. As per reports, TPTF principal Barry Lee will be joined Kata.ai as a board member. With the newly-raised capital, the company is looking to expand operations to emerging markets in Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries.
This by itself is of course nothing new, as Israel keeps attracting the attention of top global funds looking for great deal flow outside of Silicon Valley, NYC and Boston; large corporates interested in tapping into innovation coming out of Israel; and large scale startups acquiring smaller Israeli startups as a strategy to get a foot in the Startup Nation door. Given all that, it is no surprise that funding for Israeli startups has reached a record high in 2016 with Israeli tech companies raising $4.6 billion this year, up from $4.4 billion in 2015. The growth in funding is supported in part by massive influence of Chinese investors who "want a piece" of Startup Nation too and invest directly in companies as well as in Israeli VC funds. On the flip side, 2016 was the year we saw a major decline in exits of Israeli companies which took a plunge of 67% compared to the previous year, with no huge, billion dollar Waze-type exits. While global market dynamics definitely played a role here, this is also a sign of maturity of the Israeli tech ecosystem where startups are less excited to sell early and strive to grow bigger companies.