Baidu launches $500m fund to support internet, AI startups

REUTERS/Barry Huang/File Photo

Chinese internet group Baidu is setting up a $500-million growth-stage fund that will invest in internet and artificial intelligence (AI) technology startups, according to a report by Chinese news site The Paper.

The fund, dubbed Changcheng Investment Partners, will be an independent and market-oriented fund with average cheque amount ranging from $20 million to $30 million per investment, the report added.

Jennifer Li, CEO of Baidu Capital and former CFO of Baidu, will reportedly relinquish her post as Baidu Capital head to lead the new fund, the third such fund established by China’s search engine giant.

Baidu’s first growth-stage fund, Baidu Ventures, raised $200 million in 2016 to invest in AI-related early-stage projects. In the same year, Baidu Capital raised about $3 billion to invest in mid- and late-stage internet sector deals.

Baidu Ventures invests in seed, Series A, and Series B stages, primarily in companies based in China and the United States. Baidu Capital, on the other hand, invests mainly in mature projects in the Internet sector. Its portfolio companies include Singapore-based ride-hailing operator Grab and smart electric car maker NIO.

Recently, Baidu created one of China’s best-funded fintech companies after raising more than $1.9 billion for its newly spun-off financial services division from TPG, Carlyle Group, and other investors.

Baidu also delivered a solid first quarter performance, posting total revenues of Rmb20.9 billion ($3.33 billion), a 31 per cent increase from a year earlier. Online marketing revenues were Rmb17.2 billion ($2.74 billion), representing a 23 per cent increase year over year.

Baidu had approximately 475,000 active online marketing customers, representing a 5 per cent increase year over year.

“We had a strong start in 2018, with our core business exhibiting robust growth, and we continue to execute on our strategy to strengthen Baidu’s mobile foundation and lead in AI,” said Robin Li, Chairman and CEO of Baidu, in a press statement.

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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.