FreeD Group, a Hong Kong-based software company that has built artificial intelligence-powered chatbots and recommendation engines for clients including Samsung Electronics and Marriott International, has raised USD 15 million in a new funding round led by a Daiwa Securities Group fund.
Alongside Daiwa ACA APAC Growth, Hong Kong property developer ChinaChem Group and the city government’s HKSTP Corporate Venture Fund joined the fundraising. Radiant Tech Ventures, a Hong Kong investment group which had previously backed FreeD, also participated in the round which valued the group at USD 105 million.
The capital infusion will allow the customer-service software company to expand further into Southeast Asia and the Pacific by adding offices in Indonesia and Thailand and expanding its Singapore operation.
“We have new projects coming in, pretty big projects. Because the projects are coming in quite fast, so we need to actually increase our head count to manage those projects,” said chief executive Abel Zhao, adding that FreeD is also considering expanding its footprint in Europe beyond its existing London base.
Zhao, a veteran of US travel industry technology platforms Travelport and Amadeus, set up FreeD in 2015 with software engineer Kenneth Lee, now the company’s chief product officer. FreeD previously raised USD 10.5 million across three funding rounds.
FreeD’s customer-interaction software clients also include Tencent Holdings, Singapore Telecommunications, and China Mobile. It has nearly 170 staff spread across 12 offices globally.
FreeD last year formed a joint venture to expand its presence in the Middle East in partnership with Seed Group, an investment company controlled by Dubai’s Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum. Last month, the World Economic Forum named FreeD Group as one of 100 early-stage companies pioneering significant new technologies and innovations that will take part in its global programs and discussions.