Chinese speech recognition company iFlytek raises $407m funding

Photo: Ilyass SEDDOUG/Unsplash

Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) company iFlytek has raised $407 million from a state-backed industry fund and several provincial government funds via a private placement, according to a filing on Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

The company has issued 108 million shares at 27.10 yuan per share to 10 investors including multiple state-backed investment firms besides China Asset Management, the filing said.

The funds raised will be used to improve technology in open platforms for smart speech, its next-generation cognitive technology, and service robots.

Founded in 1999, Shenzhen-listed iFlytek develops voice recognition technology for translation and service robots that can react to human voice orders.

Having focused on voice recognition technology over the past 20 years, the company provides its experience and know-how to partner with local governments across the country to facilitate China’s strategy of promoting frontier tech.

Shenzhen-listed iFlytek, which has featured in MIT’s list of smartest companies, has a market value of Rmb62bn ($9bn). It has spent Rmb251m on research and development last year — more than twice its net profit of Rmb125m.

Earlier, the firm had announced a RMB1.02 billion ($150 million) fund to invest in software and hardware startups that look to apply artificial intelligence in consumer electronics, healthcare and other industries.

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.