The billionaire behind Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime has died of an unknown illness

The billionaire behind Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime has died of an unknown illness

Tang Xiaou, professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, speaks during the opening ceremony of the World Congress on Artificial Intelligence 2023 at the Shanghai World Exhibition and Convention Center on July 6, 2023 in Shanghai, China.
VCG via Getty Images

  • Tang Xiao, the billionaire founder of Chinese artificial intelligence giant SenseTime, died on Friday.
  • The company announced that he succumbed to undisclosed “health issues.”
  • He died just weeks after the company was accused of artificially inflating its revenues.

Tang Xiao, the billionaire founder of Chinese artificial intelligence giant SenseTime, died on Friday due to undisclosed “health issues,” according to a statement from the partly state-owned company.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Professor Tang Xiao Ou, our beloved founder, renowned AI scientist, Director of Pujiang Laboratory, Director of Shanghai AI Laboratory, and Professor of Chinese University of Hong Kong,” read a statement from SenseTime released early Sunday in China. . “Professor Tang passed away due to health problems on December 15, 2023 at 11:45 p.m.”

The company’s obituary did not specify what type of health problems Tang died from or whether his illness was previously known.

The controversial Chinese AI company, founded in 2014, has been one of the most valuable AI startups in the world, partly due to its direct ties to and funding from the Chinese government. The company is developing technologies, including facial recognition, object detection, and video and image analysis using artificial intelligence.

SenseTime representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Tang’s death comes just weeks after Grizzly Research, a US-based short-selling firm, accused the Chinese AI company of artificially inflating its revenues, suggesting that SenseTime engaged in “highly questionable revenue distribution schemes” in which the company misrepresented Direct or indirect funds to customers that were used to purchase goods from SenseTime that may never have been delivered.

“We believe that SenseTime’s core facial recognition business has become significantly unprofitable due to intense competition and the fact that the Chinese government simply does not make a practice of awarding highly lucrative contracts to the majority of foreign-owned companies,” Grizzly Research said in its released report. In late November.

Although the company claimed in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that the report was “baseless and contains unsubstantiated claims and misleading conclusions and interpretations,” SenseTime stock was hit hard by these accusations, falling nearly 10% in the wake of the crisis. . News, bringing its total losses to more than 40% so far this year — and more than 80% since its IPO, Forbes reported.

At the time of his death, Tang’s net worth was $1.1 billion, consisting entirely of the value of his shares in SenseTime, according to Forbes.

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