China: AI-focused Baidu Ventures reaches first close of second RMB fund at $317m

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Artificial Intelligence-focused Baidu Ventures (BV), a unit of Chinese internet search firm Baidu Inc, has reached the first close of its second RMB fund at $317 million, said a CMN report quoting a WeChat post by the company.

The announcement comes two days after Andrew Ng, former chief scientist at Baidu, revealed that he has raised a $175 million fund from venture capital firms New Enterprise Associates, Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners as well as SoftBank Group Corp. to invest in AI startups.

With the latest fundraise, BV’s total assets under management currently stand at around RMB3 billion ($476 million), the report said.

The Beijing-based company created the venture capital unit in September 2016 and also announced a $200 million sum to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) projects. As an independent fund, the firm focuses on AI and data-enabled companies, as well as broadly transformative and disruptive ideas.

Baidu is betting big on AI technology. The company created a deep-learning research institute in 2013, and more recently has been investing in technology research, setting up facilities focused on big data and AI.

According to Crunchbase data, BV has till date made a total of 18 investments, of which 6 alone were lead investments.

It recently led a $64 million Series B funding in Rimag, a Shenzhen-based medical imaging service provider, and participated in a $10 million seed funding round of San Francisco- and Singapore-based biotech company Engine Biosciences.

Some of its other investments include Jiqi Zhixin, a technology media platform, Aqrose Technology, a machine vision and machine learning technology startup, YI Tunnel, a developer of checkout-free convenience store technologies, and Whalehouse Technology, an automated warehouse solutions provider.

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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.