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Baidu’s smart voice unit to raise independent round on $2.9B valuation

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Baidu, China’s dominant search service and a leader in artificial intelligence research, is further diversifying into the smart voice space as its smart living group is poised to raise an independent round on a 20 billion yuan ($2.94 billion) post-money valuation.

The fundraising move signals a potential spinoff of the smart living group down the road. The unit is best known for its voice assistant DuerOS, the search giant’s Alexa equivalent, which was active on 200 million devices including both Baidu’s own branded speaker and a variety of third-party gadgets as of early 2019.

Baidu shipped around 15 million units of its Xiaodu speakers in 2019, making it the second-largest player in China following Alibaba and ahead of Xiaomi, according to market research firm IDC.

Investors including Citic Private Equity Funds Management (CPE), state conglomerate Citic’s asset management firm, as well as Baidu’s venture arm Baidu Capital and IDG Capital, have entered definitive agreements to invest an undisclosed amount into the smart living group’s Series A round.

China has in recent years seen increasing cooperation between its internet firms and industrial incumbents from sectors spanning real estate, healthcare, education to finance, which are eager to embrace digital solutions.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Baidu. Upon completion of the deal, Baidu will be the majority shareholder with super-voting rights in the smart living group and continue to consolidate the unit’s financial results.

The competition in voice intelligence is a race to secure partnerships with hardware makers, which could in turn contribute consumer usage and data. Besides selling speakers, Baidu has a leg up in putting its voice assistant in connected cars, thanks to its ecosystem of automakers using its open-source autonomous driving platform Apollo. Alibaba, needless to say, can leverage its dominance in retail to market its smart voice system and speakers. Xiaomi, on the other hand, commands an portolio of Internet of Things allies that may benefit from gaining voice capabilities.

Baidu’s endeavor in AI is marked by the lineup of famed scientists it has attracted (and lost) in recent years, including Andrew Ng and Lu Qi. The company vowed to stake its future on AI early on, though its nascent AI-related businesses have yet to deliver significant revenue. The 20-year-old firm continues to rely on search to drive ad revenue as it faces growing competition from advertisers’ new darling, TikTok parent ByteDance.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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