SINGAPORE— Investigations are allegedly being conducted with Aicadium’s Vice President of Business Development, Liu Feng Yuan, who is also a co-founder of BasisAI, following a whistleblower complaint against him.
It has been said that the complaint relates to staff departures from BasisAI, some of whom were later hired by SPH Media – the media entity created from the delisted Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) in 2021.
According to the tech news site Tech In Asia, Aicadium, a subsidiary of Temasek, has taken “management action” and concluded an investigation into Liu.
However, neither Aicadium nor Temasek has commented on the matter.
In August 2021, the newly founded Aicadium acquired BasisAI, and owned a 97.8% stake in BasisAI worth US$14.8 million.
BasisAI was a Singapore-based provider of scalable and responsible artificial intelligence (AI) software, and was co-founded by Mr Liu, Linus Lee, and Silvanus Lee in 2018.
Tech In Asia reviewed documents and accounts from former and current employees at BasisAI and SPH Media.
The investigation revealed that while working for Aicadium, Mr Liu also joined SPH Media as a technical advisor.
He allegedly introduced a BasisAI engineer to SPH Media, was involved in recruiting the engineer, and coordinated the timing of his exit.
The engineer left BasisAI in 2022 to join SPH Media as an engineering executive. Two months later, another engineer left the firm too, for a job with SPH Media.
Tech in Asia also earlier reported that at least 10 of the 15 original data science and engineering employees at BasisAI were also part of a post-merger exodus.
These employees left BasisAI starting in October 2021, just over a month after the acquisition was announced. The firm had around a team of 20 during 2020.
In 2019, BasisAI raised S$8.2 million (US$6 million) in seed funding from Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) investment firm, and Sequoia India.
One year later, the startup launched its proprietary end-to-end machine learning platform, Bedrock, which enables organisations to rapidly deploy responsible AI solutions.
Since then, BasisAI has deployed solutions for organizations such as DBS, UOB, OCBC, ComfortDelGro, the Singapore government, and Singapore Airlines. The company has also partnered with global companies including Accenture, PwC, and AWS.
Meanwhile, Aicadium was launched in August 2021 as Temasek’s global center of excellence in Artificial Intelligence. The company aims to partner with Temasek portfolio companies and other enterprises seeking to develop and scale end-to-end AI solutions to improve business outcomes.
Multiple portfolios in the public service before founding BasisAI
Upon checking Mr Liu’s linkedIn profile, it was found that he has held appointments in the public service, including positions at GovTech, the Land Transport Authority, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Furthermore, Mr Liu was recently appointed as a new board member in the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS), effective as of 1 February 2023.
However, there is no mention of his portfolio related to SPH Media on his profile.
“Diversifying portfolio forms the backbone of his investment strategy”, Mr Liu told ST in 2020
In a September 2020 interview with The Straits Times, Mr Liu shared that “diversifying his portfolio” is the backbone of his investment strategy. He believed that diversification helps him stay invested for the long term and avoid short-term risks and pitfalls.
Before co-founding BasisAI, Mr Liu was the founding Director of the data science and artificial intelligence division at the Government Technology Agency (GovTech).
He scaled the division to maturity, building a new culture and technology capability within the government.
He was also responsible for leading and developing nation-wide platforms such as the Smart Nation Sensor Platform and Smart Nation Video Analytics platform.
During his tenure with the government, Mr Liu oversaw public transport regulation and was one of the pioneers in introducing big data analytics to public transport regulation and capacity planning.
Mr Liu began his career with roles in energy policy and financing of social programmes before being appointed to the Administrative Service. He was awarded the President’s Scholarship by the Public Service Commission in 2001.
He holds a master’s degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University, as well as a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.