SenseTime Shrinks Urban Security Unit, Increases Investment in Smart Cars

According to a report by LatePost on September 14, SenseTime, an artificial intelligence company that listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange at the end of last year, has recently adjusted its core business unit related to smart cities and security technology, shrinking the division’s team size by over 20%.

The main business of the firm’s smart city unit is to provide security systems for the government, providing SenseTime with a major source of revenue. According to its financial report, in 2021, the security business revenue of SenseTime reached 2.14 billion yuan ($307 million), accounting for more than 40% overall.

Before this round of adjustments, the total number of employees at SenseTime was close to 6,000, among which smart city unit had more than 2,000. Now, about 500 people have left the division. A source close to SenseTime said that some teams within the business group had been abolished.

SenseTime has responded to the reports, stating, “So far this year, the total number of employees in the company has increased slightly. As a fast-growing scientific and technological innovation enterprise, SenseTime will adjust its organization and talent structure according to the market and its own situation to better meet its business development. At present, the overall business in SenseTime is developing normally, the talent strategy has not changed, and recruitment this year is in normal progress.”

While adjusting its security business operations, SenseTime is also increasing investment its smart cars unit. In 2016, it began to provide intelligent cockpit and autonomous driving solutions for automotive companies. SenseTime is now recruiting new talent for the business, and has opened up internal job transfer opportunities. Applicants are required to have experience in autonomous driving. At present, the smart car group within SenseTime has over 1,000 employees.

In the first quarter of this year, SenseTime’s smart car business became a new business group, operating independently from the mobile smart business group. Its automotive customers already include GAC Motor, Honda and Daimler AG.

These team adjustments are closely linked with the firm’s revenue performance. In the first half of this year, revenue from its smart car business increased by 71% year-on-year to 121 million yuan ($17.4 million), accounting for 10% of SenseTime’s total revenue. The revenue from its security business dropped by 44.8% to 434 million yuan.

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During a telephone conference held after the release of its semi-annual report, Xu Li, CEO of SenseTime, attempted to explain the decline in performance, claiming, “The epidemic caused shutdowns in many places, which affected the expenditure willingness, product deployment and project construction progress of customers such as local governments.”