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.