Zhipu AI, a promising Chinese contender to OpenAI, recently secured funding from the country’s renowned food delivery giant Meituan, currently valued at approximately $100 billion.
A Meituan subsidiary is now a 10% shareholder in Zhipu AI, as reported by a local media, based on business filings.While the exact funding amount remains undisclosed, Zhipu AI disclosed having raised “hundreds of million yuan” during its Series B round in September last year.
Notable investors in the startup include Qiming Venture Partners, Legend Capital, and Tsinghua Holdings. Numerous Chinese companies are diligently working to develop large language models (LLMs) that cou Alsold potentially rival their Western counterparts.
Zhipu AI distinguishes itself with its academic origins, having spun out of China’s prestigious Tsinghua University.
Established in 2019, the startup is led by Tang Jie, a distinguished professor in the university’s Department of Computer Science and Technology.
Recently, Zhipu AI took a significant step by open-sourcing its bilingual (Chinese and English) conversational AI model, ChatGLM-6B.
This model is trained on six billion parameters and boasts the capability to perform inferences on a single consumer-grade graphics card, substantially reducing the cost of running an LLM.
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Additionally, the company previously open-sourced a more robust and general-purpose variant, the GLM-130B, trained on an impressive 130 billion parameters.
Zhipu AI’s user-facing chatbot app, ChatGLM, is currently in the closed beta phase and is initially targeted at academic and industry players.
Just three weeks earlier, the Chinese internet giant made headlines by announcing its acquisition of Light Years Beyond, another prominent LLM player in China, for a staggering $234 million, despite the startup being founded just four months prior.
Notably, this acquisition followed Light Years Beyond’s founder, Wang Huiwen’s, resignation from all corporate roles at Meituan due to health reasons. Wang Huiwen is also a billionaire co-founder of Meituan.
These strategic investments are expected to significantly enhance Meituan’s AI capabilities, bolstering its talent pool.
On the flip side, AI firms like Zhipu AI stand to benefit from accessing Meituan’s vast user base, which includes 450 million individuals ordering food, purchasing groceries, and booking hotels through its on-demand platform.