Zhipu and Baichuan are the two leading startups involved in China’s push for using generative artificial intelligence competing with Google and OpenAI.
Amid the buzzing AI market, Chinese AI startup Zhipu announced that it has secured $342 million (or 2.5 billion yuan) in funding from Chinese tech giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (HKG: 0700).
HongShan, the former Sequoia China along with food delivery leader Meituan joined the recent funding round. China’s top two tech giants, along with key competitors such as Ant Group and Xiaomi, are among the supporters of Beijing Zhipu Huazhang Technology. This private firm is striving to develop homegrown alternatives to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. These companies also participated in a recent $300 million funding round for another ChatGPT rival, Baichuan.
Zhipu and Baichuan are the two leading startups involved in China’s push for using generative artificial intelligence. The two players are looking to compete with global players like Google and Microsoft-backed OpenAI.
Based in Beijing, Zhipu was among the initial Chinese companies to receive government clearance for a public release in August. Following this, it introduced an open-source model and a chatbot named Qingyan.
China’s Challenges the US in AI
Interest in Zhipu and similar companies highlights the broader implications of the growing competition between the United States and China in the field of AI. This competition is expected to bring transformative changes across various industries, including transportation, media, and finance, potentially driving a new phase of economic growth. AI technology also holds significant applications in government and military sectors, which could further complicate the already strained relationship between Washington and Beijing.
Venture capital firms and technology leaders are investing billions in AI development and training, echoing the surge of AI-related activities in Silicon Valley and Europe. Recently, Baidu Inc’s billionaire founder, Robin Li, asserted that the company’s large language model, Ernie, is on par with OpenAI’s GPT-4, signaling a competitive stance in this national race.
The US has recently imposed stricter restrictions on Chinese access to advanced chips provided by companies like Nvidia Corp, which are essential for training and running AI models. Many experts in the Chinese AI industry believe that local developers may ultimately need to turn to domestic alternatives, although Washington has been extending restrictions to include AI chip design firms in its list of restricted entities.