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Google boosts investment in mobile voice tech firm Mobvoi

The American tech giant Google invested, and became a minority shareholder, in a Chinese mobile voice tech company, Tech Crunch wrote in a report on Tuesday.

The company in question is Mobvoi, and it declined to say exactly how much money Google invested in it. It did say, however, that it takes the company to $75 million (£48.4m) in investment to date. Knowing that Mobvoi has had series A and B rounds, amassing a total of $11.6m, as well as a few unannounced rounds, it's safe to say that Google's investment is under $65m.

Even though, according to Crunchbase, Mobvoi is a voice search tech company, Reuters claims Mobvoi is also an artificial intelligence firm.

"Mobvoi works on artificial intelligence (AI) voice-controlled software, like that used in Google's Android products for mobile search, and also develops hardware like smart watches,” it says.

The Google-led Series C fundraising values Mobvoi at $300 million, with the start-up maintaining a controlling stake, said co-founder Li Yuanyuan.

Google doesn’t even try to hide it’s trying to get back into China, the world’s most populous country. However, thanks to its anti-censorship policy, the company is marginalised in the country. Now, it’s betting on its Google Play, the app store for its Android operating system, to get back in.

Google is not the only company trying hard to expand into China. Apple is also working hard on establishing itself there, as well as Uber, who has to fight both local competition (Didi Kuaidi, for example), frequent protests from traditional taxi services, as well as legal obstacles.