Google makes first investment in China since its exit in 2010
Google has invested in Mobvoi , becoming a minority shareholder of this Beijing-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup. This is its first venture into the Chinese market since pulling out in 2010.
Although the investment amount has not been disclosed, Google led the Series C round for Mobvoi, valuing the company at $300 million. Business ties already exist between the duo: Mobvoi has been the Chinese partner of Android Wear, Google’s operating system for wearables, since September of this year.
Founded by ex-Google U.S. research scientist, Li Zhifei, in 2012, Mobvoi independently develops technologies in Chinese language speech recognition, natural language processing and vertical mobile search. Venture capitals such as SIG China and Sequoia Capital have also backed this tech start-up.
Due to the Chinese government’s Internet censoring policy, Google withdrew the majority of its services from the country in 2010, while maintaining an engineering and sales presence, and seeking local partners. The latest investment marks its prudently renewed interest in the world’s largest Internet market in terms of number of users.
Photo: "Google China Beijing" by Fan Yang - yes. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons
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