Baidu Inc is China’s main internet provider. In fact, it’s one of the largest in the world and now it’s teamed up with one of the country’s biggest insurers – China Life Insurance Co. Ltd in a project that’s worth a massive $2.12 billion.
The joint-funds will be used to accelerate investment in artificial intelligence companies, mobile internet, and other advanced technologies.
The partnership was originally announced back in February but was confirmed again earlier this week during a signing ceremony in Beijing. It comes as part of a bigger push in the acceleration of AI for Baidu.
Baidu was founded back in 2000 by Robin Li and Eric Xu. In 2016, the internet giant ranked third in China’s top 100 Internet Companies as ranked by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the Chinese government.
For Chinese insurers China Life, the alliance will help it gain access to some of the more prestigious and advanced AI projects happening in China right now. China Life was founded in 1949 as PICC. In 2015 it ranked number 13 on Fortune China’s Top 500 Chinese Enterprises and now has more than 600,000 agents nationwide.
Baidu Capital is the internet giant’s investment arm. As part of the deal, it will be managing the Baidu-China Life fund. Investments will be made into various areas involving AI, as well as fintech, and the internet in general. China Life is offering its share of the capital through China Life Investment Holding Co. Ltd, who’s currently in control of more than $43 billion in total. In comparison, in 2016, Baidu Capital had around $3 billion in capital.
One of Baidu’s previous investments in the world of AI includes a mobile app ride-hailing operator similar to that of Uber, called Huochebang. Another recent investment in AI was in Chinese electric vehicle startup NIO. To help them concentrate their efforts even further into AI investing, Baidu set up a venture capital arm in 2016 called Baidu Ventures. This year saw the company launch both the Apollo Fund and the DuerOS Fund in which to help accelerate interactive AI and autonomous driving.