SenseTime’s stock rose as much as 23 percent in Hong Kong on Thursday, raising Tang Xiao’ou’s net worth, the millionaire professor who cofounded the Chinese AI behemoth seven years ago.
SenseTime’s main stakeholder is Tang, who teaches information engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Based on a share price of HK$4.27 ($0.55), up from the IPO price of HK$3.85, his investment is worth up to $3.8 billion. It finished at HK$4.13 on its first day of trade.
The $740 million SenseTime IPO was postponed from December 17 when the US Treasury Department placed the business to a list of Chinese military-industrial complex enterprises, prohibiting American investors from investing. It mentioned SenseTime’s face recognition software, which is being utilised by the Chinese authorities to identify ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
SenseTime uses artificial intelligence to organise enormous volumes of raw and real-time data, such as photos and videos. To allow automated choices and processes, their software systems analyse and interpret raw data.
Their AI software can do everything from digitising workplaces and automating workflow procedures like issue prediction and automated job scheduling to converting real-time city data into alerts that can be used to track road damage and traffic accidents. For example, in 2017, SenseTime worked with Honda to develop autonomous driving technology.
According to SenseTime’s prospectus, its software platforms have been utilised by over 2,400 clients, including over 250 publicly traded firms as of June 2021. 85.5 percent of SenseTime’s income came from mainland China in the first half of this year, 12.3 percent from Northeast Asia, including Japan, and 1.3 percent from Southeast Asia.
SenseTime is still losing money, despite increasing sales to 1.65 billion yuan (approximately $260 million) in the first half of this year from 861.2 million yuan in the same period last year. It had net losses of 3.7 billion yuan in the first half of this year and 12.2 billion yuan for the entire previous year, owing mostly to research and development costs.
Tang founded SenseTime in 2014 alongside his brother-in-law Wang Xiaogang, a professor of engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and two of Tang’s Ph.D. students, Xu Li and Xu Bing.
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