Microsoft-backed AI firm Laiye bags $35m in Cathay Innovation-led Series B+

U.S. Dollar and China Yuan notes are seen in this picture illustration June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

Laiye Technology, Microsoft-backed Chinese artificial intelligence company based in Beijing, announced that it has raised $35 million in its Series B+ funding round led by Cathay Innovation, an affiliate of Cathay Capital Private Equity.

The funding round, according to the company’s announcement in Chinese, was also backed by Laiye Technology’s existing shareholders, Lightspeed China Partners and Wu Capital.

The firm said it will use the proceeds for talent recruitment, especially for research and development, and hire sales team for its robotic process automation (RPA) products. RPA uses software with AI and machine learning capabilities to handle high-volume and repetitive tasks.

Additionally, Laiye said the fresh capital will further allow it to support forward-looking entrepreneurs as it works on growing its AI capabilities and accelerate the commercialisation of its robotic solutions.

The completion of the Series B+ funding round came as Laiye merged with UiBot, a Chinese startup that develops robotic process automation (RPA).

Laiye’s co-CEO Li Wei said UiBot has recorded 300,000 downloads and over 30,000 registered users in six months. It also registered more than 6,000 corporate clients during the said period.

Laiye Technology was founded in 2015 as an interactive platform that offers intelligent assistant products to individual and corporate clients. The company’s flagship products include a consumer-oriented companion robot named Xiao Lai and a business-oriented intelligent chatbot platform called Wu Lai.

Cathay Capital managing partner Duan Lanchun said the enterprise-level robot platform and products developed by Laiye “are of great importance in promoting the labor force transformation in the era of AI”.

The Chinese startup raised an undisclosed amount of funding in its Series A round in December 2016, which was backed by Microsoft. It first raised $4 million in an angel round from Lightspeed China Partners, Sequoia Capital, Zhen Fund, and Pengpai Capital.

In December 2017, Laiye Technology raised an undisclosed amount in its Series B funding round anchored by Wu Capital.

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.