Chinese technology major Tencent Holdings is leading a $400-million Series C investment in Shenzhen-headquartered humanoid robot maker Ubtech Robotics.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported the development, citing people familiar with the matter. The company has been raising the funding for the last six months, with the round yet to be closed and financial commitments finalised.
Founded in 2012, Ubtech mainly develops small humanoid robots for entertainment and educational purposes as well as STEM education robots.
The investment will see the robotics firm, already a unicorn, gain a post-money valuation of between $4 billion and $5 billion. In an interview with the China Money Network, its founder James Zhou had disclosed that it was raising a new round at a $5 billion valuation.
It had last raised a $100-million Series B round in July 2016 led by CDH Investments. That round, backed by CITIC Securities and other investors, saw the company valued at $1 billion.
Ubtech had raised a $20 million Series A+ round from Qiming Venture Partners in 2015. It had also secured an undisclosed amount of strategic investments from Chinese voice recognition software maker Anhui USTC iFlytek Co. at the end of 2016. According to data compiled by Crunchbase, Ubtech has raised aggregate equity funding of $520 million to date.
Neither Ubtech nor Tencent has issued public comments on this transaction, which comes at a time when Chinese enterprises are raising funds and heavily investing in research and development into AI systems aimed at enhancing robots, autonomous cars and leveraging on artificial intelligence to serve its ageing society.
The investment aligns with Tencent’s strategy of investing in robotics and education companies. Recently, it co-invested with TAL Education in California-based robotics startup Wonder Workshop. It has also invested in fighting robot manufacturer GJS Robot.
Tencent Holdings has emerged as one of the most active corporate investors in Asia’s technology ecosystem, counting 19 of 60+ Asian technology unicorns in its portfolio, with most of its investment activity focused on China. The BATJ companies (Baidu, Alibaba Group, Tencent Holdings & JD.com) have been among the largest unicorn backers in Asia.