Xiaoice, a Chinese-language anthropomorphic chatbot business spun off from Microsoft, has closed a series A funding round that gave it unicorn status.
Led by Hillhouse Capital, the round was joined by a group of big-name investors including GGV Capital, IDG Capital, 5Y Capital, Northern Light Venture Capital and NetEase, Xiaoice said in a statement on Monday.
The company did not disclose how much money it raised from the round and what the sum will be used for.
In announcing the latest financing, Xiaoice also unveiled its new natural speech technology, which it said enables its AI voice to sound almost human in various scenarios including conversation and singing.
Launched in 2014 by a team of Microsoft researchers, Xiaoice is modeled as a teenage girl and is touted as an “empathic computing framework” that focuses on longer back-and-forth conversations with humans instead of simply answering questions or obeying commands like most bots. In July 2020, Microsoft announced plans to spin off Xiaoice as a standalone Chinese company in which the U.S. software giant would hold a small stake.
Xiaoice, which has research and development teams in Beijing, Suzhou and Tokyo, said it has 660 million online users globally and provides its technology to business customers in the finance, retail, automobile, real estate and textile industries.
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