Baidu, China’s dominant search service and a leader in artificial intelligence research, is further diversifying into the smart voice space as its smart living group is poised to raise an independent round on a 20 billion yuan ($2.94 billion) post-money valuation.
The fundraising move signals a potential spinoff of the smart living group down the road. The unit is best known for its voice assistant DuerOS, the search giant’s Alexa equivalent, which was active on 200 million devices including both Baidu’s own branded speaker and a variety of third-party gadgets as of early 2019.
Baidu shipped around 15 million units of its Xiaodu speakers in 2019, making it the second-largest player in China following Alibaba and ahead of Xiaomi, according to market research firm IDC.
Investors including Citic Private Equity Funds Management (CPE), state conglomerate Citic’s asset management firm, as well as Baidu’s venture arm Baidu Capital and IDG