Li Kaifu bets big on AI - the most “profitable” technology in China

2017-04-28 14:59 GMT+8 1km to Beijing
Editor Han Jie
By CGTN’s Martina Fuchs
Artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles and robotics will be the game changers in the next five to ten years, according to Li Kaifu, who is considered as the “Godfather of Innovation” in China. And the guru also gives advice to those startups who are seeking an IPO (Initial Public Offering) alternative during this year’s Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC).
CGTN’s Martina Fuchs speaks with Li Kaifu in Beijing on April 27, 2017. /VCG Photo
Li has become an “oracle” when it comes to predicting the future of tech in China. As high technologies, like AI, AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) have emerged endlessly and developed rapidly, Li bets big on AI in China, considering AI technology has reached a level of “maturity” and has been the most “profitable” in the near term.
“AI has reached the level of maturity that its application can be used over many industries, for example, in the financing industry, in the medical industry, and also in internet applications. So that is the area we find most profitable in the near term. Obviously, we are also looking at long term investments, such as robotics, autonomous vehicles, all of which would be game changers over the next five to ten years,” Li noted.
Li's views on technology are widely followed in part because he previously headed Google China before founding his venture capital firm – Sinovation Ventures. And he has celebrity status in the industry and in China — with millions of social media followers on multiple platforms.
Sinovation Ventures is famous for its investment in the Meitu IPO, which saw up to 40 times returns for the company and its investors. So when Li’s company began to target “unicorns” from startups and the AI industry, the future of these industries seemed to be very “profitable”.
“At this point, everybody wants to invest in us. And we are seeing a lot of unicorns such as Zhihu and Qingting FM, and also a lot of AI companies are becoming unicorns,” Li said.
CGTN’s Martina Fuchs speaks with Li Kaifu in Beijing on April 27, 2017. /VCG Photo
Besides, Li suggests startups to choose the Hong Kong market as an IPO destination. As the US market and Chinese Mainland market have high requirements for an IPO, the Hong Kong market is indeed providing a “welcomed third choice” for startups, based on Li's view. 
“I think in America, it is really the huge user based companies with the American compradors. In the Chinese mainland, it is more the China understood, very profitable companies that meet the IPO requirements. I think Hong Kong can be a very good place for other needs,” Li explained.
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