Megvii Raises Millions from State, Foreign Banks Amid Human Rights Watch Controversy Over Biometric Surveillance

Megvii Raises Millions from State, Foreign Banks Amid Human Rights Watch Controversy Over Biometric Surveillance

Hong Kong-based AI specialist Megvii has raised $750 million through its latest funding round, the company has announced.

The news comes after Megvii raised $600 million in an investment round last year, and amid speculation that the company is planning an IPO. It’s now valued at a little over $4 billion.

The announcement also comes immediately after the publication of a report from Human Rights Watch that implicated Megvii in a repressive state surveillance program run by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang, a region notable for its large minority population of Uyghur muslims. An app used by Chinese police in the program was found to feature face biometrics technology from Megvii’s Face++ company; for its part, Megvii responded to media inquiries by stating that it had no knowledge of police use of its technology.

Megvii’s latest funding round was led by Bank of China Group Investment, the VC arm of China’s state bank, which contributed $200 million to the round. Other investors participating in the round included Macquarie Group, ICBC Asset Management, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and Alibaba Group.

While Megvii has declined to comment on any potential IPO plans, Reuters reports that the company has enlisted the help of Foxconn, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan in preparations for an IPO on the Hong Kong market.

Source: Reuters

May 10, 2019 – by Alex Perala