Singapore’s Temasek leads $100m Series C in Chinese robotics startup Rokid

Photo: Rokid website

Singapore’s state investor Temasek Holdings has led a $100-million new funding round in Rokid, a Chinese venture focused on developing robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. The round was also joined by Credit Suisse Group, CDIB Capital International, and existing investor IDG Capital.

Rokid announced the development through its Wechat official account without disclosing financial terms of the investment.

According to data compiled by Crunchbase, the Hangzhou-based firm, which was founded in July 2014, has now raised aggregate equity funding in excess of $150 million. It plans to use the latest proceeds to invest in research and development and recruit new talent.

Its founders are Mingming Zhu, formerly the head of Alibaba’s advanced technology research unit M-Team, and Eric Wong, who formerly served as a consultant and operating partner at CITIC Capital Partners, Ltd. and an executive director and CFO at Hong Kong-listed Kingsoft Corporation.

In 2014, it secured an $8.3-million angel round from IDG, Mfund, and Linear Venture. This was followed by a Series A round in July 2015 backed by IDG Capital Partners and Walden International, followed by a $65-million Series B financing round in October 2016 that valued it at $450 million.

Rokid is currently developing a family service robot, Rokid Allien, as well as a smart speaker, Rokid Pebble. At CES 2018, it also launched an augmented reality glass, RokidGlass.

This latest investment reflects a renewed focus on artificial intelligence (AI) as a key area of investment. Temasek is positioning its portfolio – which it reports is valued at S$275 billion ($207.9 billion) as at 31 March 2017 – towards emerging trends with strong growth potential. It is particularly interested in what it terms “emerging champions” – enterprises with a strong home base that have reached inflexion points, with the potential to be regional or global champions – in the technology space.

Examples of such firms in Temasek’s portfolio are the VoloAgri Group, a vegetable sed technology and breeding company, and Impossible Foods, which develops plant-based meat and dairy products.

China accounts for an estimated 25 per cent of Temasek’s portfolio. The investment comes at a time when Chinese venture capital investments into the AI sector have seen firms such as SenseTime, Face++ and Ubetch raised financing rounds in excess of $400 million.

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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.

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.