New Financing Puts $2.9 Billion Valuation on Baidu’s DuerOS Voice Assistant Platform and Xiaodu Smart Device Business

Baidu announced today new financing for its Smart Living Group (SLG) that includes the DuerOS voice assistant platform and the Xiaodu smart devices business. The funding is being positioned as a Series A financing round that assigned a “post-money valuation of approximately RMB 20 Billion, or $2.9 billion.” The total investment amount was not disclosed. CPE, Baidu Capital, and IDG capital participated in the funding round which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Accelerating DuerOS Adoption

Voicebot has learned from a Baidu spokesperson that the investment will be used to expand the partner ecosystem while also extending the service and applications provided by DuerOS. The company also said there are more than 40,000 developers support DuerOS and that research firm Canalys ranks the Xiaodu smart device product line as number one globally in terms of smart display shipments and number one domestically in China for smart speaker sales.

Data shared with Voicebot by Strategy Analytics appears to back up these claims at least for domestic sales within China. Baidu has been the top seller of smart speakers in China in each quarter since Q1 2019.

Voice Assistant Plus Hardware Unicorn

It is worth clarifying that Baidu’s voice assistant business includes both the software solution and hardware devices. In that way, Baidu’s portfolio is similar to Amazon’s with the Alexa assistant and Echo devices as well as Google’s which has Google Assistant and Nest-branded devices. The valuation indicates the combined value of the assistant plus hardware business which makes it hard to value either separately. In addition, there are other components of value that are not owned by the SLG division. Examples include Baidu Brain and AI engine which reside in the Artificial Intelligence Group (AIG). Nonetheless, the valuation is interesting because it reflects a public price for a voice assistant business that last year sold over 19 million devices and put its software on about 400 million more.

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