Zhipu AI, China's OpenAI Rival, Secures Funding from Meituan

Meituan Backs Zhipu AI, a Rising Chinese OpenAI Competitor

Zhipu AI, China's OpenAI Rival, Secures Funding from Meituan
Meituan Backs Zhipu AI

Zhipu AI, a promising contender in China's race to develop large language models (LLMs) that rival OpenAI's offerings, has secured funding from Meituan, the country's food delivery giant with a market cap of approximately $100 billion as of the latest update.

According to reports citing business filing information, a Meituan subsidiary has become a shareholder in Zhipu AI, holding a 10% stake in the company. While the exact funding amount remains undisclosed, Zhipu AI had previously raised "hundreds of million yuan" in a Series B funding round last September, with support from investors like Qiming Venture Partners, Legend Capital, and Tsinghua Holdings.

Originating from Tsinghua University, one of China's prestigious academic institutions, Zhipu AI was established in 2019 and is led by Tang Jie, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Technology.

Zhipu AI has recently made strides in the field of LLMs, unveiling its open-sourced bilingual conversational AI model, ChatGLM-6B. The model, trained on six billion parameters, claims to be highly efficient, capable of running inferences on a single consumer-grade graphics card, thereby reducing operational costs. Additionally, the company previously open-sourced a more robust and versatile variant called GLM-130B, trained on 130 billion parameters. While Zhipu's user-facing chatbot app, ChatGLM, is currently in a close beta phase, it is initially targeted at academic and industry users.

Meituan's investment in Zhipu AI comes amidst its recent acquisition of another prominent LLM player in China, Light Years Beyond, for a substantial $234 million. Interestingly, Light Years Beyond's founder, Wang Huiwen, is also the billionaire co-founder of Meituan, but he resigned from all corporate roles at the food delivery giant due to health reasons.

The investments from Meituan are expected to enhance its AI capabilities significantly, while the AI firms stand to benefit from potential access to Meituan's extensive user base of 450 million people who use the platform for food delivery, grocery shopping, and hotel bookings. This collaboration could bring new opportunities and advancements in the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence in China.

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