Tencent leads $5m round in California-based AI firm ObEN

ObEN creates a Personal AI, a virtual copy that it says looks, sounds and behaves like a user.

ObEN Inc, an artificial intelligence (AI) company based out of Pasadena, California, has secured $5 million in strategic funding led by internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, according to a press statement.

In the latest round, Li Ruigang, chairman of CMC and Fengshion Capital, also participated. With this round, ObEN has raised over $13.7 million till date.

ObEN’s AI platform enables celebrities to quickly create, securely store, and efficiently distribute their personal AI, a virtual copy that looks, sounds and behaves like its human counterpart. The firm claims to be the first to combine speech, computer vision and natural language processing technology to construct a person’s virtual voice, 3D image and personality to create a full-stack virtual celebrity.

“ObEN’s vision of creating a new form of entertainment and content driven by celebrity AI is inspiring,” said Levin Yao, executive director of Tencent Investment.

Founded in 2014 by Nikhil Jain, ObEN aims to launch its Personal AI product later this year. The firm said it will use the fresh funding to accelerate product development and grow its AI platform.

“Fans may never have a personal experience with their favorite celebrity, but ObEN’s personal AI for celebrities aims to change that. Imagine being able to perform a virtual duet with your favorite artist, have your beloved movie star become the face and voice of your virtual assistant, or engage in a deep conversation with your most admired influencer. The possibilities are infinite,” said Nikhil Jain, co-founder and CEO of ObEN, Inc.

ObEN is a Softbank Ventures Korea and HTC Vive X portfolio company and is located at Idealab in.

Tencent, which has a current market capitalization of $341 billion, recently invested $150 million in Indonesian ride-hailing startup Go-Jek, according to media reports. It also plans to infuse $66.8 million into the smart TV unit of China’s largest smart television manufacturer TCL Corp.

Tencent’s other recent investments include China’s online ticketing platform Huodongxing.com, satellite data service provider Satellogic and online brokerage firm Futu Securities International (Hong Kong) Ltd, among others.

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