Photo of Qi Yin

Artificial intelligence & robotics

Qi Yin

Striking a balance between pragmatism and faith in technology

Year Honored


As the co-founder and CEO of Megvii, Qi Yin always held 2 creeds: Technological Faith and Practical Value. The former refers to the fact that scientific-oriented enterprises cannot use the market to dictate its research direction, and the latter refers to the fact that commercialization is the only way to achieve value in technology.

In 2011, Qi created the world’s most accurate facial recognition system and published it at CVPR. Soon after, his research was being adopted in commercial products, such as Windows and Xbox, as he set off for his Ph.D. in visual sensors design at Columbia University in New York City.

For an alumnus of the University of Science and Technology of China’s School for the Gifted Young (a school dedicated to child prodigies and geniuses), Qi’s academic accomplishments seem to surprise no one. But he didn’t just stop there. In 2013, Qi chose to terminate his Ph.D. studies early, opting for the entrepreneurial life by co-founding Megvii in China. When recalling this decision, he said “When we created our startup, it was during the dawn of the AI boom. Our timing was impeccable, we were very lucky.”

Megvii’s most famous product is a deep learning facial recognition payment system: Face++. The “paying with your face” product they designed for Alibaba was one of MIT Technology Review’s 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2016.

By 2016, Face++ has become the world’s largest cloud platform for facial recognition, servicing over 400 million devices, processing over 6 billion images every month, and these numbers only got higher. Today, Megvii’s technology is widely used in financial transactions and other everyday applications; with more than 85% of Chinese Internet financial companies as its customers, and serving more than 200 million Chinese users.

Practical Value isn’t just market share. After its Series C funding, Megvii’s valuation has surpassed 600 million USD. From his results, it appears that Qi has struck the balance he sought out between Technological Faith and Practical Value, and turned Megvii into a textbook example for any scientific-oriented enterprise.