Meituan invests in Zhipu AI, China’s formidable AI competitor

Zhipu AI, a prominent challenger to OpenAI in China, has received funding from Meituan, a food delivery giant with a market cap of approximately $100 billion. A subsidiary of Zhipu AI recently gained a 10% stake in the company. The exact funding details have not been disclosed, but Zhipu AI mentioned raising “hundreds of million yuan” in a Series B round last September. Qiming Venture Partners, Legend Capital, and Tsinghua Holdings are among its investors.

Numerous Chinese companies are working on developing large language models (LLMs) that could rival their Western counterparts. Zhipu AI, which originated from Tsinghua University, is one such company. Founded in 2019, it is led by Tang Jie, a professor in the university’s Department of Computer Science and Technology.

Zhipu AI recently open-sourced its bilingual conversational AI model, ChatGLM-6B, which is trained on six billion parameters and claims to be able to perform inferences on a single consumer-grade graphics card, significantly reducing the cost of running an LLM. They have also previously open-sourced a more powerful variant, the GLM-130B, trained on 130 billion parameters. Their chatbot app, ChatGLM, is currently in a closed beta phase primarily targeting academic and industry players.

Meituan’s investment in Zhipu AI comes shortly after their acquisition of Light Years Beyond, another prominent LLM player in China, for $234 million. These investments are expected to enhance Meituan’s AI capabilities while providing the AI firms access to Meituan’s extensive user base of 450 million individuals who utilize their on-demand platform for food delivery, grocery shopping, and hotel bookings.

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