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Chinese unicorn Biren Tech eyes $2.7B valuation in the race for chip supremacy

Biren Tech's Zhang Wen

Private market rumour hints at a capital raise eyed by chip designer Shanghai Biren Intelligent Technology Co, aiming at a 17 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) valuation. Biren is working with advisers to gauge the interest of strategic and financial investors, with minor details of the transaction leaking.

The company also notably poached the former head of AMD’s China R&D centre, Allen Lee, last year. He currently serves Biren as co-chief executive officer overseeing organization, management and product design.

Discussions are ongoing with the participants unknown and with the fundraising target and valuation subject to change.

“As we are in the middle of the fundraising, we are not able to comment on the specifics of the deal,” the company remarked, adding it will disclose details after the transaction’s finalisation.

The 2020s chip wars

The geopolitical dimension of semiconductors, at the centre of the US and China’s battle for tech supremacy, risks further harm to global supply chains and disrupting international commerce.

The US has maintained its lead in the semiconductor industry, controlling 48%, while China has remained a net importer. It is consequently not lost on Beijing how critical semiconductors are to its technology ambitions, with next-gen tech and applications dependent on cutting-edge integrated circuits.

Chinese firms are significantly behind their Western counterparts in terms of both design and share of market revenue. The Chinese government has in response made rapid responses through legislation and investments to fast track the development of its local semiconductor industry.

Biren, an emerging chip unicorn

Founded in 2019 by Zhang Wen, Biren is among a cohort of companies that China is counting on as it tries to become a chip powerhouse and reduce its reliance on U.S. technology.

The high-tech startup is led by the industry’s top talents, composed of field technical experts and software elite engineers. Its niche hardware department is committed to building a wide range of computing solutions in software, hardware, and chip systems.

Biren has raised 4.7B yuan in 18 months from investors including IDG Capital, GL Ventures, Ping An Insurance Group Co., China Merchants Capital, Bertelsmann Asia Investments AG and CITIC Securities Investment Co., among other backers.

Biren co-led an angel investment round into Shanghai-based YunSilicon, a smaller peer designing cloud data centre network chips.

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