- Tang Xiao'ou, the billionaire founder of China's AI giant SenseTime, died Friday.
- The company announced he'd succumbed to undisclosed "health issues."
- He died just weeks after the firm was accused of artificially inflating its revenue.
Tang Xiao'ou, the billionaire founder of China's AI giant SenseTime , died Friday of undisclosed "health issues," according to a statement released by the partly state-owned company.
"It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Professor Tang Xiao'ou, our beloved founder, a renowned artificial intelligence (AI) scientist, director of Pujiang Lab, director of Shanghai AI Lab, and Professor of The Chinese University of Hong Kong," read a statement from SenseTime released early Sunday in China. "Professor Tang passed away due to health issues on December 15, 2023, at 11:45 p.m."
The obituary posted by the company did not specify what type of health issues Tang died of or if his illness had been previously known.
The controversial Chinese AI company , founded in 2014, was once the world's most valuable AI startup due in part to its direct connections and funding from the Chinese government. The company develops technologies, including facial recognition, object detection, and video and image analysis using AI.
Representatives for SenseTime did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
Tang's death comes just weeks after a US-based short-seller, Grizzly Research, accused the Chinese AI firm of artificially inflating its revenue, suggesting that SenseTime engaged in "highly questionable revenue round-tripping schemes" in which the company directly or indirectly provided funds to customers that were used to purchase goods from SenseTime that may not have ever been delivered.
"We believe that SenseTime's core facial recognition business has become notoriously unprofitable due to intense competition and the fact that the Chinese government simply does not make a practice of awarding highly profitable contracts to majority foreign-owned businesses," Grizzly Research said in its report released in late November.
Though the company argued in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that the report was "without merit and contains unfounded allegations and misleading conclusions and interpretations," SenseTime's stock was nonetheless deeply impacted by the accusations, falling nearly 10% in the wake of the news, bringing its total losses to more than 40% so far this year — and more than 80% since its IPO, Forbes reported.
At the time of his death, Tang had a net worth of $1.1 billion , made up entirely of the value of his shares in SenseTime, per Forbes.