Chinese smartwatch manufacturer, Mobvoi, announced it has completed a C-series funding from Google, boosting its valuation to USD 300 million. It’s reported that this round of funding may have exceeded USD 60 million, but none of the involved parties have provided further confirmation.
This is the first time Google has directly invested in China following its withdrawal in 2010. It’s said, Google is a minority shareholder in Mobvoi with Mobvoi company executives still retaining absolute control of the company. Mobvoi’s previous investors have included Sequoia Capital, Zhen Fund, and SIG Asia Investment.
“Mobvoi has developed some very unique speech and natural language processing technologies,” said Don Harrison, Google’s Vice President of Corporate Development.
“We were impressed by their innovative approach and the early traction that they’ve seen.”
Mobvoi previously partnered up with Google for Android Wear earlier in China. The second generation of the MOTO 360 came pre-loaded with Mobvoi’s Chinese voice search system, as an accompaniment to Google Now and Google Maps, both of which can’t be used in China.
Mobvoi was founded in December 2012 by Li Zhifei, an ex-Google scientist. It’s reported that 10% of Mobvoi’s employees have previously worked at Google.
According to Li Zhifei, Mobvoi’s Ticwatch, launched in June, has sold 30,000 units to date. According to a September report by Talking Data, a Chinese mobile data platform, the Apple Watch, which leads the global trend, has sold over one million units in China.
Mobvoi’s team aims at further developing artificial intelligence services for future car operating systems, robots and wearable devices.
(Featured Photo from Mobvoi)