SenseTime Shares Plummet After Death Of Co-Founder

AI artificial intelligence

Shares in US-sanctioned SenseTime drop 11 percent to all-time low after unexpected death of co-founder Tang Xiao on Friday

Shares in Chinese artificial intelligence firm SenseTime sank to an all-time low on Monday after the sudden decease of co-founder and AI scientist Tang Xiao on Friday.

The firm’s shares declined by as much as 18 percent before ending down 11.11 percent at 1.12 Hong Kong dollars (14 cents, 11 pence) on Monday.

The shares are currently trading at about one-fifth of their value at the time of SenseTime’s IPO in 2021.

Tang’s death at 55 of an unnamed illness is the latest challenge for SenseTime, which was placed on the US Entity List trade blacklist in 2019, preventing it from buying goods or services from US firms.

SenseTime chairman and chief executive Dr. Xu Li. Image credit: SenseTime
SenseTime chairman and chief executive Dr. Xu Li. Image credit: SenseTime

US sanctions

In 2021 the US further moved to block American funds from investing in SenseTime, alleging its AI facial recognition technology had been used in human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region.

The move delayed SenseTime’s planned IPO, which finally took placed at a reduced level in December 2021.

SenseTime has repeatedly denied the US allegations.

Tang, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-founded SenseTime with fellow professors from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2014 and his strong research credentials helped to turn it into one of the country’s leading AI firms.

AI leader

The firm specialised in computer vision technology and became China’s leading provider of AI-powered facial recognition, used primarily in the public sector.

More recently it has sought to diversify its business, including in the field of generative AI in which it competes with OpenAI’s ChatGPT and similar tools from Google and other US and Chinese tech giants.

In an exchange filing on Monday SenseTime Group said it would maintain business continuity under the leadership of Tang’s fellow co-founders, including executive chairman and chief executive Xu Li, executive director and chief scientist Wang Xiaogang and executive director Xu Bing.