Chinese AI giant reportedly begins another layoff due to years of loss

Jingyue Hsiao, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

SenseTime, one of China's AI giants, is reportedly undergoing a wave of layoffs, as the company has remained in the red since its listing in Hong Kong.

Chinese media Caixin and Do News, citing sources, reported that SenseTime is laying off workers following the first layoffs during September and December of 2022. An unnamed employee told Caixin that the Smart City Group plans to reduce its workforce by about 10-15%, and the Quality Control Center for the group was dissolved. Another source from the Smart City Group told Caixin that some of its products had stopped iteration. An employee for the Smart Business Group said the group would undergo a downsizing of 10%.

SenseTime said in a statement to Caixin that as a rapidly growing technology and innovation company, it strategically allocates resources to focus on future growth areas, including generative AI. The company undertakes corresponding strategic adjustments based on market dynamics and its development status, with the organizational and talent structures optimized to fulfill the business expansion demands.

SenseTime, along with CoudWalk Technology, Megvii, and YITU Technology, are viewed as four AI tigers in China, with SenseTime being the first to list itself.

However, SenseTime has been in the red since its IPO in 2021. According to the latest earnings report for the first half of 2023, the company reported sales of CNY1.43 billion (US$196 million), up 1.26% year-on-year, a gross profit of CNY648 million, down 30.55 from a year ago, and a net loss of CNY3.12 billion, slightly smaller than a year ago. The latest financial results marked the seventh consecutive semi-year of losses for SenseTime.

Meanwhile, some investors sold their holdings in SenseTime in July, including Alibaba and SoftBank.

SenseTime is looking to capitalize on the opportunity brought by generative AI. The company earlier announced InterLM, which it claims to be China's first large language model outperforming ChatGPT 3.5 in terms of some benchmarks. SenseTime said its SenseChat is expected to upgrade to version 3.0 in September.

Source: SenseTime, August 2023