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Huawei Veterans Selling AI to Banks Shape China's Newest Unicorn

  • Fourth Paradigm snags $150 million at a $1.2 billion valuation
  • The startup is joining ranks of Chinese firms making AI chips
Media Markt Electronics Store Ahead of Earnings
Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Fourth Paradigm is the latest Chinese startup to net a valuation north of $1 billion. Founded just three years ago by Huawei Technologies Co. veterans, the Beijing startup is fast winning favor among state-backed banks preparing a plunge into artificial intelligence.

The startup -- known also as 4Paradigm -- said in a statement it’s scored more than $150 million of funding at a valuation of about $1.2 billion. With that financing, its investors and paying customers now include four of China’s five largest banks: a major boost for a little-known outfit hoping to compete with the likes of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Ant Financial in the massive undertaking of wrenching a state-dominated $37 trillion banking arena into the digital age.