#Asia It’s Taiwan’s only startup to be backed by Sequoia, and it just raised $23M

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Cross-screen device usage
Taiwan-based artificial intelligence startup Appier has closed a US$23 million series B round, the company announced today. The funding came from UOB Venture Management, Sequoia India, JAFCO Asia, TransLink Capital, and MediaTek Ventures. It brings Appier’s total funding so far to US$30 million.

Appier will use the funding to “further expand in Asia and strengthen the research and development team behind its cross screen AI technology,” according to a statement.

The company uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide insights on users’ cross-screen behavior. That means tracking how people use different devices for different purposes, at different times. Insights from this information can be valuable to, say, advertisers who want to form a clearer picture of a prospective customer in order to serve more targeted ads.

“Although much of Asia sees the highest tablet usage on weekends, Indian tablet users are most active on weeknights, while Australian PC users are most active on Sundays,” the startup offers as an example of the insights it gathers. “Advertisers trying to reach customers online face mounting complexity as the number and types of screens multiply. AI can help navigate the complexities and help predict both how people travel across PCs, smartphones, tablets and TVs, and the best way to reach them.”

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Appier’s edge lies in its founders’ expertise in AI. CEO Chih-Han Yu spent a decade at Harvard and Stanford researching artificial intelligence for things like robots and self-driving cars. Together with his current CTO Joe Su, he tried to get a mobile games company going, before realizing their clients were much more interested in their AI background than their games.

For now, the firm provides insights in the advertising space, but its technology isn’t necessarily good for just one purpose. “We are living in a post-­mobile era: the era of cross screen,” says Chih-­Han Yu. “Artificial intelligence is the best approach to resolve this complexity and make cross screen easy. In fact, advertising is just the beginning. We believe in the future our AI can help businesses solve a variety of difficult analytical problems.”

The company now has offices in Taipei, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Hong Kong, Mumbai, New Delhi, Jakarta, and Seoul. It says it serves more than 500 brands and clients (including big names like Heineken, Nike, L’Oreal, Lancome, and Ikea). It reports a growth of over 300 percent in the past year, and 600 percent since it raised a series A round worth US$6 million in June 2014, although it doesn’t provide much detail on those figures.

“We’re delighted with the progress at Appier in the last 18 months since we partnered with them,” says Shailendra Singh, managing director for Sequoia Capital India. “Appier has assembled a team of very accomplished AI scientists, for solving a very important and challenging set of problems in the cross screen internet era. Their stellar growth across multiple countries, borne out of results delivered for 500 advertisers, gives us high conviction that Appier can continue to scale rapidly.”

We have reached out to Appier for more details and will update this story when we hear back.

What do you think about AI technology being used for this type of business analytics? Are you excited about it, or wary of it? Chime in with your thoughts below.

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