Self-driving startup AutoX closes Series pre-B round to expand footprint in China

Hong Kong-based self-driving startup AutoX launches a grocery delivery and mobile store pilot in San Jose, California in August 2018.

Autonomous driving startup AutoX has raised tens of millions of U.S. dollars in a Series pre-B round of financing to expand its footprint in the Chinese market, the company confirmed to DealStreetAsia.

The development was first reported by 36Kr.

The investment was led by a Shenzhen-based investment fund manager, whose name can be directly translated into “Shenzhen Qianhai Hongzhao Fund,” with participation from other investors in China’s Guangdong province including Xu Jinguang, president of Shenzhen IMT Industry Group.

AutoX founder and CEO Xiao Jianxiong, also known as “Professor X,” said that the company will soon kick off the fundraising work for a Series B round. He declined to disclose further.

“AutoX will continue to focus on the Chinese market and deepen cooperation with governments and enterprises in Shenzhen and other regions to develop self-driving technologies that adapt to the road conditions and national conditions of China, while also targeting the global market,” said Xiao.

AutoX is targeting to increase its influence in the home market as China bears the potential to become the world’s largest market for autonomous vehicles.

McKinsey & Co projects market revenue of $1.1 trillion from mobility services and $900 billion from sales of autonomous vehicles by 2010.

AutoX was set up in September 2016 in Silicon Valley to specialise in the development and commercialization of level 4 autonomous driving solutions based on real-time camera-vision, sensors and full-stack AI technologies.

The Series pre-B round, which was completed last December, came on the heels of a $100 million Series A round led by Chinese state-owned automaker Dongfeng Motor in September 2019. Silicon Valley-based incubator Plug and Play’s China fund, Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), which was launched by the Hong Kong government in 2001, also poured money into the previous round.

Xu Xiaoping, founder and Beijing-based ZhenFund, Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Capital Today, Taiwanese chip giant MediaTek, and Chinese state-owned automaker SAIC Motor were also investors in its previous rounds.

AutoX plans to use the proceeds to forge cooperation with strategic partners around the world, and to speed up talent recruitment for its three major R&D and operation centres in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai.

Xiao told DealStreetAsia in a previous interview that AutoX was also in active discussions with local authorities in Southeast Asia, mulling a foray into the emerging market. Besides China, AutoX currently also has a presence in Sweden and the United States.

The company earlier this month announced a partnership with Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler (FCA) to roll out a fleet of robo-taxis in China in early 2020.

 

Singapore Reporter/s

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

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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.