Taiger, a Singapore-based artificial intelligence service company, is completing its first financing round in order to grow its staff and open new offices.
Sinuhe Arroyo, CEO and founder, declined to give details about the size or terms of the fund raise, other than it was oversubscribed and involved funds in Singapore, including some backed by governments (although he didn’t say which governments).
This is the first time the company has sought external capital. The business began eight years ago in Austria and Spain, before Arroyo moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2015. It also has offices in San Francisco and Hong Kong, and at the beginning of 2017 opened in Brazil and Mexico. Arroyo is looking to add London and New York either late this year or in early 2018, to ensure the company is present in all major global financial centers. Other locations are being considered if demand warrants it.
Today the Singapore office has fewer than 40 people, but Arroyo told DigFin he expects the number there to be around 60 or 70 people by the end of the year. “Our main cost is people,” he said. “We need the money for human capital and for geographic expansion.”
The one big market Taiger has yet to enter is China, and Arroyo remains wary because he is skeptical the company can preserve its intellectual property there.
However, an individual who is a prominent backer of one of Taiger’s new fund shareholders is from China, and there have been discussions about the conditions required to take the service to the mainland. Arroyo says it is possible that with the assistance of a prominent backer from China, Taiger may be able to provide some of its services there. “But China is about potential; it is not a priority,” he said.
Taiger offers three services to large financial institutions and corporations, derived from knowledge representation and natural language processing (in other words, its software is good at reading and comprehending documents and other information). One is for human-to-machine conversation (chatbots), another is for searching for structured and unstructured data.
The third service – the one that is contributing the most now to the company’s growth – is an information extraction tool. Using a combination of A.I. and machine learning techniques (training a computer to become ever more proficient at a particular task), this extraction helps companies find, read, validate and store all kinds of information, notably legal and financial documents and records that are often written in very human language (such as a power of attorney, which can involve a variety of legal slang).
Arroyo claims the use of these services can help banks and insurers cut operation costs by 80% or more, be eliminating the need for paralegals and other paper-pushers. He says the details of how the system does this is a secret, but he sells Taiger on that 80% number.
According to the company’s website, clients today include AIA, Manulife and Santander.