Tencent Makes Strategic Investment In China’s Smart Retail AI Service Provider Youluoke

Shanghai Youluoke Electronic and Technology Co., a Chinese smart retail artificial intelligence (AI) service provider, has secured a series C+ round of financing from Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Under the deal, the two companies have entered into a strategic cooperation to enhance their presence in China’s smart retail sector.

Youluoke was founded in 2009 to provide AI-based intelligent management and data analysis services for smart retail store operators in China.

Leveraging technologies like facial recognition, human detection, video analysis and speech processing, Youluoke developed a cloud services technology platform named "ulucu" to assist stores in marketing, shop inspection and management.

Specifically speaking, Youluoke collects consumers’ information, including ages, consumption preferences, and duration of staying, to create a consumer profile, helping store operators replenish stock and provide more customized services.

The Shanghai-based company, listed on China’s "new third board" in 2016, serves both chain enterprises and private stores in a range of fields including catering, clothing, healthcare, automobile and hospitality. According to the company’s website, it has provided services to nearly 300,000 stores across 31 cities and provinces in China, reaching out to over 2.9 billion consumers in these stores.

Proceeds of the new round will be used in improving Youluoke’s platform as a service (PaaS) and further financing its research and development of the AI technology.

Youluoke completed a RMB78.87 million (US$11.45 million) series C round of financing led by China’s state-owned corporation China Merchants Group in January. In 2013, Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins invested more than US$4 million in the company.

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