China’s AI industry is gaining momentum as local companies race to develop advanced technology and secure funding. Zhipu AI, an emerging player in the field, has recently announced that it has raised a total of 2.5 billion yuan ($340 million) in financing this year. This significant investment will allow Zhipu AI to further develop its foundation models and compete with established players like OpenAI.
Zhipu AI, a promising challenger to OpenAI, has attracted significant funding from Chinese tech giants, venture capital firms, and state funds. The company’s ability to bring together rivals and secure local financing demonstrates the growing strength of China’s AI industry. With its open-source initiatives and cutting-edge research, Zhipu AI is poised to make a significant impact in the world of artificial intelligence.
The Rise of Zhipu AI
Zhipu AI was founded in 2019 as a spin-off from Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious institutions. Led by Tang Jie, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, the company has quickly gained recognition for its cutting-edge research and development in the field of artificial intelligence.
A Delicate Time for AI Development in China
The announcement of Zhipu AI’s significant financing comes at a delicate time for the Chinese AI industry. The Biden administration in the United States recently imposed additional restrictions on the export of AI chips to China, making it more challenging for Chinese companies to train large language models. To overcome this obstacle, Chinese AI companies have been stockpiling semiconductors, investing millions of dollars in securing these crucial components.
Local Financing as a Strategy
In order to sustain its participation in the highly competitive AI race, Zhipu AI has turned to local investors for financing. The recent $340 million investment came from yuan-denominated funds, marking a shift from the previous trend of relying on USD funds. This change can be attributed to the geopolitical tensions between China and the United States, which have created a divide in the tech industry.
Collaboration Amongst Rivals
What sets Zhipu AI apart is its ability to bring together major Chinese tech companies, even those that are often considered as archrivals. Companies like Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi, and Meituan, along with other prominent venture capital firms, have joined forces to invest in Zhipu AI. This collaboration showcases the importance of the AI industry in China and the willingness of key players to support emerging talent.
Zhipu AI recently made headlines by open-sourcing its bilingual conversational AI model, ChatGLM-6B. This model, trained on six billion parameters, is capable of carrying out inferences on a single consumer-grade graphics card. Furthermore, Zhipu AI has also released an open-sourced foundation model, the GLM-130B, which boasts an impressive 130 billion parameters.