Baidu acquires startup Raven Tech to further enhance AI capability

Chinese Search Giant Baidu has confirmed the acquisition of Beijing-based Raven Tech, a Chinese smart home control and smart hardware start-up utilising artificial intelligence, big data and next generation operating systems to develop an AI voice assistant platform.

Baidu didn’t reveal financial details of the acquisition.

Alongside the acquisition, Baidu said that it has created a new business unit to house its Duer digital assistant and related products such as its augmented reality platform.

After the acquisition, Raven's founder Cheng Lu will join Baidu to oversee its smart home hardware operations and “work with the Duer team on new product development”. He will report to Baidu's president and chief operating officer Lu Qi, who joined Baidu last month from Microsoft.

The deal comes after Baidu’s recent announcement of its participation in the $27 million Series B investment in the US-based VR/AR firm 8i.

Founded in 2014, Raven's products include a smart home centre controlling system, Raven H-1, mobile chat app Flow, embedded within artificial intelligence assistant Eva, and Music Flow, a music search and player app.

Raven Tech is the fifth alumni of Microsoft Venture Accelerator and the only startup from mainland China enrolled in the U.S. seed accelerator Y Combinator W15, with offices in Beijing, China and Silicon Valley, USA.

The startup has already raised $18 million from investors like DCM Ventures and Zhenfund.