Baidu Acquires Raven Tech, AI Alumni of Microsoft Venture Accelerator

Baidu Inc. has announced plans to acquire Beijing-based Raven Tech, a Chinese smart home control and smart hardware start-up utilizing artificial intelligence, big data and next generation operating systems, Chinese media reported.

No financial details were disclosed.

After the acquisition, Raven’s founder Lv Cheng will join Baidu to oversee its smart home hardware operations. He will report to Baidu’s president and chief operating officer Lu Qi, who joined Baidu last month.

Lu Qi was formerly global executive vice president at Microsoft. This investment is his first deal after joining the Chinese search engine giant, and many more are expected to follow as Baidu intensifies effort to build up its artificial intelligence unit.

Founded in 2014, Raven’s products include Raven H-1, a smart home central controlling system. It also revealed products called Flow, a chat mobile app embedded with an artificial intelligence assistant Eva, and Music Flow, a music search and player app.

Raven Tech is the fifth alumni of Microsoft Venture Accelerator and the only startup from mainland China enrolled in the U.S. seed accelerator Y Combinator W15.

The company previously raised a US$18 million series A round from Zhen Fund, Matrix Partners China, DCM Ventures, and Y Combinator.

Earlier this month, Baidu’s early-stage investment unit Baidu Ventures joined a US$27 million financing round in New Zealand-based artificial intelligence company 8i, a New Zealand-based media platform that enables users to create, experience and share 3D videos of real people, for virtual reality, augmented reality and web users.

(Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated the name of the founder of Raven Tech. His name is Lv Cheng.)

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