iCloudUnion Raises CNY 150 Million to Rev Up IPO Engine
The big data and artificial intelligence sectors have seen a series of resolutions from the Chinese central government since 2012, and now the industry is preparing for an IPO train.
The Chinese data and analytics firm iCloudUnion (数之联) announced that the closure of its CNY 150 million (USD 21 million) financing on January 17, aiming to focus on government affairs, industrials and military solutions. An early-stage investor, who asked not to be named, said that the company is preparing to go public in 2020.
Founded in 2012, the Chengdu-based company has earned CNY 50 million (USD 7 million) net profits after tax, according to its CEO and founder Zhou Tao (周涛).
iCloudUnion now has three horizontal big data platforms. iCloudMiner, a cloud-based data mining product, enables users to conduct modeling with its simple drag-interaction features. It consists of data processing, model training and result publishing processes. Apart from serving enterprises, it can also help end-customers. xDataInsight is a Business Intelligence (BI) tool; InsightView, a visualization tool, allows users to have access to graph galleries like echarts and D3 with modules and add-ons.
Meanwhile, the company applies complicated data mining and planning methods to construct models and analyze complex systems in different industry verticals. The company has already provided food safety monitoring, digital factory and smart city solutions to local governments and manufacturers.
Zhou Tao, a big data veteran in China, founded another database venture Business Big Data (BBD), in 2015. While Union focuses on data planning and designing for governments and businesses, BBD is specialized in financial services. BBD raised a record-high CNY 440 million (USD 61 million) in a Series E round in 2018.
China’s big data journey started before 2012 when there were only a few experimental applications of big data. Between 2012 and 2014, the rise of the three biggest tech giants-Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (known as BAT in China)-and, the emergence of new policies and growing internet penetration all, paved the way for China to find a new edge in the big data era.
Since 2014, the emerging Internet of Things technology, machine learning and deep learning have brought new opportunities about how technology can be leveraged in public sectors and traditional industries.
Yitu, CloudWalk, SenseTime and Megvii, who grabbed the chance successfully to train their algorithms on masses of Chinese data, are now considered as ‘big four’ artificial intelligence firms in China. Rumors have circulated that the four companies are aiming at IPOs.