Yitu Clarifies STAR Market IPO News
According to Bloomberg, the AI chip technology start-up seeks IPO opportunities to bankroll its technology development. Later on, the company denied the information.
Yitu Technology (依图科技) responded that it attaches importance to the capital market and is also actively evaluating various opportunities. However, there is no clear IPO plan at present.
Yitu was founded in 2012, with the angel investment from ZhenFund (真格基金), it is also backed by the top venture capital organizations such as Sequoia and Hillhouse (高瓴资本) in six follow-up rounds of financing. In July 2018, it finished strategic financing of CNY 100 million by Xingye Capital (兴业资管), and the post-investment valuation exceeded CNY 15 billion.
Based on six main applied sciences: computer vision solution, speech recognition, algorithm, human-computer interaction, big data platform, and chip infrastructure, Yitu aims at making AI technology more practical in real life. Its main downstream applications thus far are smart security, healthcare, finance, and retail.
Megvii(旷视科技), one of Yitu's biggest rival, submitted its prospectus for IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in August. The listing process of AI companies has once again attracted investors' attention. In a ruthless industry that requires long-term investment and sometimes lacks clear profitability models, it's hard for them to survive without strong capital backing. China's Star Market allows loss-making companies to go public, thus the conjectures that more AI start-ups will choose to go to the STAR Market is somehow reasonable.
Apart from Yitu and Megvii, the other two of the "Four AI Dragons" - Sensetime(商汤科技) and Cloudwalk (云从科技) also seem to be speeding up their capitalization pace. Cloudwalk is planning to go IPO next year, with a latest valuation disclosure of over CNY 20 billion, while Sensetime has become an AI unicorn, with the highest valuation of USD 5.9 billion.
It is worth noting that both Sensetime and Megvii have investment from Alibaba. On top of that, Jack Ma is one of the shareholders of Yunfeng Fund, which invested in Yitu's series B and C rounds of financing.