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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