SenseTime, a Chinese AI facial recognition startup used by the Chinese government for mass surveillance, files for Hong Kong IPO despite U.S. ban
As you may recall from our coverage two weeks ago, Chinese AI facial recognition startup SenseTime was reportedly aiming to go public in a $2 billion IPO on the Hong Kong stock exchange. SenseTime is the maker of AI-powered technology used by the Chinese government to surveil its citizens.
Today, SenseTime formally filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong despite a tech crackdown and a U.S. blacklist. In October 2019, the United States put SenseTime on a trade blacklist, which restricts the company’s ability to get access to certain technologies that originate from the United States.
SenseTime is the developer of Face++, the technology used by the Chinese government to monitor and track its over one billion citizens. Face++ is also used by more than 300,000 developers in 150 countries to identify faces, as well as images, text, and various kinds of government-issued IDs.
SenseTime is China’s largest artificial intelligence (AI) unicorn focused on computer vision and deep learning technologies. The company is behind a proprietary deep learning platform, SenseTime has become the largest algorithm supplier in the country.
Founded in 2014 by Li Xu, Bing Xu, and Xiaogang Wang, SenseTime develops face recognition technology that can be applied to payment and picture analysis, which could be used, for instance, on bank card verification and security systems.
SenseTime currently provides its face recognition technology to over 300 companies including China Mobile Communication Co, China UnionPay, Huawei Technologies Co., Xiaomi, and JD.com. The company claims that its face recognition technology has an error rate below one in 100,000. SenseTime also provides text, vehicle, and image recognition to mobile Internet companies, financial services, and security companies.
Since its inception seven years ago, SenseTimehas raised a total of $2.6 billion in funding over 9 rounds. Its latest funding was raised on December 1, 2020, from a Series D round. SenseTime’s backers include Alibaba and SoftBank, among others