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SoftBank makes fresh bet on Chinese robotics startup Gaussian Robotics

Written by Nikkei Asia Published on     2 mins read

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Vision Fund 2 joins USD 188 million investment in Gaussian Robotics.

Chinese robotics startup Gaussian Robotics on Wednesday said it raised RMB 1.2 billion (USD 188 million) from a group of investors co-led by SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund 2.

Founded in 2013, Shanghai-based Gaussian develops autonomous cleaning robots used in facilities such as hotels, hospitals, and airports. The company says its robots are used in more than 40 countries and regions, and that the devices have traveled a total distance of 150 million kilometers.

In September, SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said Gaussian machines can efficiently clean large spaces, such as factories, by identifying dirty spots and developing the fastest route to clean them. Deploying its robots can reduce costs by 20%, he said.

Gaussian said Vision Fund 2 and Capital Today, a Chinese investment firm, jointly led the Series C round, along with other participants, such as food delivery group Meituan. The announcement follows a RMB 10 billion funding round in April from investors including Meituan and Tencent Holdings.

While the deal makes Gaussian one of the most well-funded robotics companies in China, the Vision Fund’s investment is smaller than SoftBank’s past bets in the country and signals the company’s cautious approach after its investment portfolio was hit by a regulatory crackdown.

The Vision Fund invested USD 12 billion in Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Global, but the share price tumbled shortly after going public in the US in late June after Chinese regulators launched an investigation into the company. Cumulative gains from Vision Fund investments in China since the fund’s inception fell from JPY 1.48 trillion (USD 13.1 billion) at the end of June to JPY 132 billion at the end of September, SoftBank said on Monday.

Son said the same day that he was “concerned about the situation in China,” but highlighted that China, as a share of the total value of investments across the two Vision Funds and a Latin America-focused fund had already declined to about 20%. “The China risk is not extremely high. It is manageable,” he said.

This article first appeared on Nikkei Asia. It’s republished here as part of 36Kr’s ongoing partnership with Nikkei.

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