Xiaoice, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developer, has closed a series A funding round led by Hillhouse Capital Management on Monday.
Details: After the most recent financing, this startup, which was spun off from Microsoft last year, has reached a valuation of 1 $billion.
GGV Capital, IDG Capital, NetEase, and Northern Light Venture Capital were also among participants.
Xiaoice also announced its new natural voice technology on Monday, which is said to make its AI voice sound like a human in various scenes including dialogue and singing.
In an interview on Wednesday, CEO Li Di said that the company raised more than 500 million yuan ($77 million) in its series A financing.
Xiaoice had more than 100 million yuan in sales for the fiscal year 2020 and it plans to double its revenue in the year ahead, the CEO said, adding that the AI chatbot intends to go public down the road.
Context: Launched by a team led by Li at Microsoft in 2014, the company said it has 660 million online users globally and provides its technology to business customers in the finance, retail, automobile, real estate and textile industries.
In July 2020, Microsoft announced to spin off XiaoIce into a standalone Chinese company in which the US software giant would hold a minority stake.
Instead of simply answering questions or obeying commands like most bots, Xiaoice is modeled as a teenage girl and is touted as an “empathic computing framework” that focuses on longer back-and-forth conversations with humans.