Xiaoi mulls IPO after new HQ

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Shanghai Xiaoi Robot Technology Co Ltd, which is into artificial intelligence, aims to go public in 2019.

The announcement follows the opening of its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong earlier this month, which was graced by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

The moves are part of the go-global strategy of Xiaoi Robot, which is better known as Xiao-i.

Yuan Hui, its founder and chairman, said the firm's AI technology is the brain behind businesses embracing the digital dimension.

The firm expects to double its revenue this year, given its increasingly popular conversational AI system and solutions, Yuan said, without disclosing the company's financials.

"Hong Kong is a leading technology hub, and innovation is strongly supported by the local government. We have every confidence in using Hong Kong as the base and taking our development to the next level in Asia-Pacific."

The Hong Kong facility will deepen research and development, as well as offer sales and services to clients. The firm will continue to invest in AI technology, build the ecosystem and incubate talent, he said.

The move follows Xiaoi Robot's R&D unit that was set up in the Hong Kong Science Park in January 2017. The Asia-Pacific center is expected to further extend the company's service capability in Hong Kong and support growth in the region.

At the time of its founding in 2001, Xiaoi Robot engaged in semantic analysis of texts. It rapidly emerged as a pioneer in the human-machine interaction market. It is now locked in competition with iFlytek Co Ltd.

The firm has businesses in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and other regions, with clients and partners such as the Bank of China's Hong Kong branch, HSBC and Asus.

"We see a lot of opportunities in Hong Kong as businesses are committing more resources to upgrade their technology to improve operating efficiency and to enhance the customer experience," Yuan said.

The firm's products have been used in 50 sectors and adopted by more than 1,000 enterprise clients, including leading banking, financial, retail and telecom corporations and government organizations in the Chinese mainland.

Earlier this year, Xiaoi Robot inked a partnership with Australian company Actura, a provider of learning solutions spanning in-class to out-of-class environments.

Under the deal, Xiaoi Robot offers semantic analysis technologies to enable automatic customer service at Actura.

Xiang Yang, an AI expert at the China Center for Information Industry Development, said voice-interaction is becoming an important way for human-machine interaction, which will generate a large number of business opportunities.

Consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has forecast that AI-enabled businesses will boost China's GDP by as much as 26 percent in 2030.

 

Email: tanyuhan@nbd.com.cn