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Hong Kong chatbot developer FreeD raises $15m from Daiwa-led group
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Abel Zhao, right, and Kenneth Lee, left, founded FreeD together in 2015. (Source images courtesy FreeD Group)

FreeD Group, a Hong Kong-based software company that has built artificial intelligence-powered chatbots and recommendation engines for clients including Samsung Electronics and Marriott International, has raised $15 million in a new funding round led by a Daiwa Securities Group fund.

Alongside Daiwa ACA APAC Growth, Hong Kong property developer ChinaChem Group and the city government’s HKSTP Corporate Venture Fund joined the fundraising. Radiant Tech Ventures, a Hong Kong investment group which had previously backed FreeD, also participated in the round which valued the group at $105 million.

The capital infusion will allow the customer-service software company to expand further into Southeast Asia and the Pacific by adding offices in Indonesia and Thailand and expanding its Singapore operation.

“We have new projects coming in, pretty big projects. Because the projects are coming in quite fast, so we need to actually increase our head count to manage those projects,” said Chief Executive Abel Zhao, adding that FreeD is also considering expanding its footprint in Europe beyond its existing London base.

Zhao, a veteran of U.S. travel industry technology platforms Travelport and Amadeus, set up FreeD in 2015 with software engineer Kenneth Lee, now the company’s chief product officer. FreeD previously raised $10.5 million across three funding rounds.