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Friday, October 20, 2023

China’s tech titans race to take a position $340M in OpenAI challenger

It’s grow to be more and more evident that two parallel AI universes are forming between the U.S. and China. Whereas the U.S. has spawned notable gamers like OpenAI and Anthropic, China has its personal rising candidates. One in every of these basis mannequin builders, Zhipu AI, introduced at present that it has raised 2.5 billion yuan ($340 million) in complete financing thus far this 12 months.

Based in 2019, Zhipu was spun out of China’s prestigious Tsinghua College and is led by Tang Jie, a professor within the college’s Division of Laptop Science and Expertise.

The announcement has come at a fragile time. This week, the Biden administration imposed further restrictions on the export of Nvidia AI chips to China, additional impeding its rival’s capacity to coach giant language fashions. In anticipation of semiconductor bans from Washington, China’s deep-pocketed AI corporations have been stockpiling semiconductors, spending a whole lot of thousands and thousands of {dollars} on these much-coveted chips.

To maintain its participation in such a pricey AI race, Zhipu is conserving its coffer full by elevating from native traders. The $340 million funding got here from yuan-denominated funds, marking a shift from a two-decade development the place USD funds have been the popular supply of financing till geopolitical tensions created a tech divide.

In August, President Joe Biden signed an govt order barring U.S. investments in crucial tech sectors of China, together with AI, semiconductors and quantum computing. The objective is to curb China’s navy build-up, however the order additionally despatched a chill by means of China-focused American VCs, which are actually avoiding investments in delicate areas. Some have sought an answer to proceed working out there by separating their China models, similar to Sequoia Capital China, which was renamed to HongShan, and GGV Capital.

HongShan, alongside different distinguished VCs like Shunwei Capital and Hillhouse Capital, in addition to a state fund managed by Legend Capital, invested in Zhipu.

The AI startup additionally raised capital from a formidable roster of Chinese language web behemoths, uniting even archrivals like Alibaba and Tencent that not often co-invest collectively. The lineup contains Ant Group, Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi, Meituan, Kingsoft, TAL Schooling Group and Boss Zhipin.

Zhipu lately open-sourced its bilingual (Chinese language and English) conversational AI mannequin ChatGLM-6B, which is skilled on six billion parameters and claims to have the ability to perform inferences on a single consumer-grade graphics card. It additionally has an open-sourced basis mannequin skilled on 130 billion parameters, the GLM-130B.

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