Chinese unicorn 4Paradigm closes $230m Series C+ round at $2b valuation

Photo: Franck V./Unsplash

Fourth Paradigm, a Chinese AI technology and service provider also known as 4Paradigm, has announced the completion of a Series C+ round of financing at $230 million that brought the company valuation to $2 billion.

The company has roped in new strategic investors, including California-based technology conglomerate Cisco, Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo, commercial bank China CITIC Bank, Shenzhen-based venture capital firm Green Pine Capital Partners, and private equity firm Co-Stone Asset Management, according to a statement on Thursday.

Sequoia Capital China, which first invested in 4Paradigm’s angel round in 2015, remains the firm’s largest external shareholder post the transaction.

The investment will enable the company to build an “AI-based enterprise-level service ecosystem,” said 4Paradigm in the statement. The company, which marched into the global market in 2019, plans to accelerate the expansion pace across markets like Europe and Southeast Asia to help enterprises achieve digital transformation through AI.

Co-founded in 2014 by former Baidu senior scientist Dai Wenyuan, 4Paradigm primarily offers clients a suite of software tools that allow them to develop smart applications and run complex algorithms on their data without the need to employ high-trained engineers.

Apart from its main service of providing tools for banks to detect fraud, identify customers and perform analysis, the Beijing-based company also provides solutions and services to customers in the fields of finance, retail, healthcare, manufacturing and energy.

4Paradigm entered into the unicorn club at a valuation of $1.2 billion, after the company closed over 1 billion yuan ($141 million) in a Series C round in December 2018. Investors in the previous round include Sequoia Capital China, Beijing-based Agricultural Bank of China, China’s Bank of Communications, as well as state-owned real estate firm China Poly Group and China Reform Fund, among others.

Its investors and paying customers include the five largest state-owned commercial banks in China, namely Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of Communications, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Bank of China (BOC), and China Construction Bank (CCB). It has served more than 7,000 corporate clients as of August 2019.

The company accounts for the largest market share among all machine learning platforms in the home country, followed by industry giants including Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS), according to an IDC Marketscape study in 2019.

4Paradigm joined a slew of domestic peers such as Alibaba’s research institute Damo Academy, Baidu, and Beijing-based Infervision, to help combat the coronavirus by providing a precision screening for virus prevention and control, a real-time scenario analysis system, and an infection contact sourcing system.

Last month, Beijing-based big data and AI major MiningLamp Technology also announced the completion of $300 million in a Series E round led by Tencent and Singapore’s state-owned investment firm Temasek.

These investments come as the Chinese government is ramping up efforts to realise a “Made in China 2025” scheme, which was issued in May 2015, to shrink off its reliance on technology imports and transfer the country into an AI superpower powered by its gigantic amount of data, talent, and funding.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.