China’s work automation startup Laiye raises $160M, acquires France’s Mindsay – TmZ.NG #Chinas #work #automation #startup #Laiye #raises #160M #acquires #Frances #Mindsay #TmZ.NG Welcome to TmZ Blog, here is the new story we have for you today:
An ambitious Chinese startup wants a slice of the flourishing global work automation market. Laiye, a Beijing-based company that provides a one-stop platform for automating office tasks of varying degrees of complexity, just picked up $160 million from a Series C funding round to expand globally.
Guanchun Wang, Laiye’s founder and CEO, saw the “value of artificial intelligence” in the years he worked at Baidu’s smart speaker department after his film discovery startup was sold to the Chinese search engine giant. At the time, he also realized traditional industries were well underserved compared to the attention that internet platforms like short videos and news apps received from AI entrepreneurs. To fill the gap, he started Laiye in 2015.
Laiye’s Series C financing came in three tranches, with the last one to have recently closed at $70 million, an oversubscribed round led by influential Chinese private equity firm Hopu Magnolia. Other investors include VMS Group from Hong Kong, Chinese private equity firm Youshan Capital, as well as existing investors Lightspeed China and U.S.-based Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Adding Hong Kong-based investment firm VMS Group to the company’s cap table will bring the resources needed for a potential initial public offering in the city, said Wang. The company doesn’t have a timeline for its IPO yet but will hold early discussions with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the coming months.
Start from Paris
Concurrent with the fundraising announcement is Laiye’s acquisition of Paris-based chatbot service provider Mindsay for an undisclosed amount and transaction type. The two met through the startup’s investor Cathay Innovation, and the acqui-hire will pave the way for Laiye’s entry into the Europe market, said Wang.
In Paris, Laiye is slated to assemble a product and engineering force, building on top of Mindsay’s 30-people team. Much of the top developer talent in China has gotten just as expensive as their counterparts in Western countries, observed Wang, who holds a PhD in machine learning from Princeton. Laiye picked Paris as its springboard for entering the rest of Europe partly because Mindsay is there, but France itself is also a great source of science and engineering talent, the founder said.