Sinovation Ventures, a venture capital firm headed by former Google China chief Kai-Fu Lee, has now kicked off the second part of a new $900 million fund for A.I. investment. The specifics of this fund's use aren't well-known as of this writing, but Lee has said that it might be invested in pursuit of blending A.I. with retail locations and education centers. The goal would be to place A.I. more directly into businesses and capital to scale up their reach. However, while Sinovation is based in the U.S., most of that funding likely won't be invested stateside. That's possibly in part because of how unreceptive some Americans have been to A.I. and robotics for which the fund is intended. About 90-percent of investments fueled by Sinovation Ventures go to China. According to Lee, a large part of that comes back to the fact that the company is not considered a tier-one investor in the U.S.
With that said, as mentioned above and as with other Sinovation Ventures funds, this is being raised in two parts. The first of those was raised in U.S. dollars and has been closed at $500 million, whereas the second will be in Chinese yuan. The goal is to reach a total of around $900 million, leaving approximately 2.5 billion yuan – or $400 million – left to be raised. Once that's been closed, the company will have a total of some $1.7 billion spread across four U.S. dollar and three Chinese RMB funding vehicles. It bears repeating that there hasn't been any specifics revealed about where the funding will go but Lee has provided insight into what Sinovation is looking for. Since it's not really possible to predict what the "A.I. product of the future" will be, the firm is focused on learning about the needs that can be fulfilled with the technology. Beyond that, it is working to build "domain expertise" and develop solutions that can eventually become products.
In the meantime, Sinovation Ventures also has its own spin-off companies underway, with an official announcement planned for May. Although no details were made available by the executive, that would be the second subsidiary of Sinovation. The first was an A.I. research institute introduced in 2017. Whether that spin-off has anything to do with the current funding efforts remains to be seen. However, that should be interesting nonetheless when it is revealed and may serve as a good distraction until the investments to be made with the new fundraising are revealed.