China Digest: ALO7 gets $37.5m led by Legend; Alibaba invests $227m in SenseTime

A logo of Alibaba Group is pictured at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT

Investments in Chinese digital education space continue to gain pace as ALO7, an English language learning product and services provider, receives $37.5 million in Series D financing. Besides, Alibaba Group has invested RMB1.5 billion ($227 million) in SenseTime.

ALO7 gets $37.5m in Series D round

ALO7, an English language learning product and services provider, has received $37.5 million in a Series D financing round led by Legend Capital, with GuoHe Capital and UG Investment joining as co-investors.

The round also saw participation from Series C investors Qualcomm, New Oriental, and Vickers Venture Partners, according to a statement.

Legend Capital Managing Director Li Jiaqing said, “ALO7 values the important role of technology in the innovation process of educational services. In addition, we strongly support and recognize the importance of ‘dual teaching’ because the expansion and promotion of the teacher’s ability itself is also very helpful in solving the problem of inadequate and uneven distribution of educational resources.”

Formerly known as Saybot, ALO7 was founded in the U.S. in 2004 by MIT PhD Pengkai Pan and his mentor, digital-media guru Nicholas Negroponte. In 2010, ALO7 joined the K12 English education market, focused on providing high-quality teaching products and services to schools.

Alibaba invests $227m in SenseTime

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has reportedly invested RMB1.5 billion ($227 million) in SenseTime, a Beijing-based Chinese artificial intelligence company specializing in facial and image recognition technology, the China Money Network reported.

Post investment, SenseTime was valued at $3 billion, it said. This is just double the valuation it had reached when it raised a $410 million funding led by CDH Investments and Sailing Capital in July this year.

Earlier this month, SenseTime Group also received an undisclosed investment from chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. Both the companies had announced a strategic tie-up last month to collaborate on AI, which will see SenseTime’s proprietary algorithms deployed in smart devices.

This is Alibaba’s second investment in the Chinese AI space in the recent months. Last month, its financial services affiliate Ant Financial joined a $460-million Series C financing round in facial recognition startup Face++.

Also Read:

Qualcomm invests in Chinese AI facial recognition startup SenseTime

Backing Big Brother: Chinese facial recognition firms appeal to funds

Singapore Reporter/s

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

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  • 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. 
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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.