Seven Seas Partners, a Chinese venture capital firm established by former Tencent Holdings Ltd’s chief technology officer Jeff Xiong, has led a RMB350 million (US$53 million) series B round in Roobo, an artificial intelligence start-up developing home service robots.
With the investment, Xiong will also join Roobo as chairman, according to a company announcement. The firm claims that its valuation is now close to unicorn level, a term used to describe a private company worth over US$1 billion.
Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Beijing, Roobo started as an AI company developing several different types of service robots. Its products include Pudding, an educational robot for kids; Domgy, an AI pet companion robot with indoor navigation capability, sports control, facial recognition and speech recognition; Jelly, a commercial service robot for banks, hospitals and restaurants.
The start-up is now changing its focus from robotics to artificial intelligence solutions, providing AI chips, modules, operating systems, content and cloud services to companies in the fields of smart home appliance, automotive and robotics.
“AI is another technology revolution after the Internet. Robots will be the next information platform after personal computers and smart phones,” said Jeff Xiong. “So far, Roobo is the start-up with the most complete capabilities in both AI software and hardware.”
Last September, Roobo raised a US$100 million investment from iFlyTek Co., Ltd., a Shenzhen-listed Chinese software firm. The start-up plans to use the latest proceeds to invest in research and development, upgrade its products and enhance its team.