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Top 10 Most Active Investors in Chinese AI Startups, 2000 - 2019Q1
COVID-19 and China

Artificial Intelligence seems to have already penetrated every aspect of our life and, naturally, AI startups have huge investment potential. In this article we set up to compile a top 10 of most active investors by number of deals, who contribute greatly to the growth of Chinese AI startups. Where accurate numbers were unavailable, estimates have been made. 

The top three investors are IDG Capital, ZhenFund and Sequoia China, with 178 deals closed constitute 45% of the total number of deals in the list.

Although only ranked third in terms of the number of deals, Sequoia Capital China participated in the largest amount of total investments.

Sequoia, GGV, Tencent and Sinovation were involved mostly in deals related to series B and series C financing and a few pre-IPO rounds, while the others went for earlier stage AI companies. 

The most popular areas behind the deals were corporate services, business solutions and healthcare. 

Among the 399 deals closed by these investors, 56 were made with companies in cooperate services, making up 14%. IDG, ZhenFund, and Hongtai favored corporate services the most. These include technologies such as natural language processing, data mining, and knowledge graph that help create smart customer services, conduct efficient marketing campaigns and make business decisions.

Business solutions were the second most popular area, with technologies such as computer visions, machine learning, and audio detection. 

AI companies in healthcare added up to 45 deals, ranking third. These startups specialize in smart diagnostics, medical imaging analytics and fitness management.

Auto industry did not lag behind healthcare and shares the third place with it. AI companies in auto industry focus on advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) autonomous driving algorithms, and interactive devices operated through deep learning-enabled computer vision and audio recognition technologies. 

A few companies in agriculture, aerospace, and legal services, were also financed by the 10 most active AI investors. Drone companies make up most of the agriculture sector. AI companies in aerospace refer to those providing solutions for microsatellites using machine learning and data mining. The only legal service company on the list delivers legal consulting services powered by knowledge graph.

The top 10 most active investors of Chinese AI startups since 2000

IDG Capital

Founded in 1992, IDG Capital is the first investment firm to bring foreign venture capital into China. It excels in three areas of investment: Venture Capital, Private Equity, and M&A. The strategic investment sectors are TMT (tech, media, and telecommunications), healthcare, consumer & entertainment, and advanced manufacturing & clean tech and energy. 

AI companies funded: Meitu, 360, Baidu, Tencent, Sensetime, Tongdun, Ping An Good Doctor, etc.

ZhenFund 

ZhenFund is a seed fund founded by New Oriental co-founders Bob Xiaoping Xu and Qiang Wang in 2011 in collaboration with Sequoia Capital China. It has a network of over 600 portfolio companies. 

AI Companies funded: YITU, Mobvoi, Momenta, Aibee, Horizon Robotics, etc.

Sequoia Capital China

Formed in 2005, Sequoia Capital China is a venture capital firm focused on seed stage, mid stage, late stage and growth investments. It seeks to invest in TMT, healthcare, consumer/service, and industrial technology. The team has worked with more than 500 companies over the past 14 years.  

AI Companies funded: 360, DJI, ByteDance, Horizon Robotics, NIO, DeepGlint, YITU, BITMAIN, etc.

Matrix Partners China

Founded in 2008, Matrix Partners China is an affiliated company of US venture capital firm Matrix Partners. 

AI Companies funded: 360, Cheetah Mobile, Spacety, etc. 

Sinovation Ventures

Sinovation Ventures is an investment firm founded by Dr. Kai-Fu Lee in 2009. It focuses on Chinese technology firms in AI & big data, entertainment, consumption upgrade, corporate services and education. 

AI Companies funded: Meitu, BITMAIN, Megvii, 4Paradigm, Monmenta, Horizon Robotics, UISEE, etc.

Legend Star 

Founded in 2008, Lengend Star is one of Legend Holdings' early investments and incubations. It focuses on AI, TMT, and health care investment.

AI companies funded: Megvii, AISpeach, AirMap, Spacety, Yunding, etc.

Hongtai Capital 

Hongtai Capital was founded by New Oriental founder Yu Minhong and investment banker Sheng Xitai in 2014. Hongtai fund focuses on seed and growth stage companies in AI & big data, intelligent manufacturing, fintech, new consumption and new culture.


AI companies funded: SoundAI, Deepwise, Pensees, etc. 

Morningside Venture Capital

Morningside is a private equity and venture capital firm focused on seed and early-stage  companies and growth investments. It specializes in retail, social Internet, enterprise, and frontier tech companies.
          

AI companies funded: Aihuishou, SenseTime, XPENG Motors, etc.     

Tencent Holdings

Tencent Holdings is a Chinese Internet giant based in Shenzhen, Guangzhou. It is one of the most active investment corporations with more than 600 companies, specializing in social media and entertainment. 


AI companies funded: UBTECH, NIO, BITMAIN, etc.

GGV Capital

GGV Capital is a global venture capital firm focusing on companies from seed to growth stage. Founded in 2000, it has invested in around 300 companies in U.S., China and some emerging markets. 

AI companies funded: Alibaba, XPENG Motors, LIAX, etc. 

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