Meituan boosts investment in generative AI: acquires 10% stake in Zhipu AI

July 21, 2023 2:05 am

Chinese food delivery giant Meituan is ramping up investment in the generative artificial intelligence space.

On Thursday, Chinese news outlet ifeng reported, citing business filings, that Meituan had acquired a 10% stake in Zhipu AI, a prominent start-up founded by Tang Jie, a professor of computer science at Tsinghua University.

The latest round of funding, which valued the startup at approximately $500 million, was led exclusively by Meituan.

Zhipu AI managed to raise “hundreds of millions of yuan” in its Series B round last September. It is worth noting that the startup counts Qiming Venture Capital, Legend Capital, and Tsinghua Holdings among its investors.

Founded in 2019, the startup has shown strong capabilities in developing generative AI technologies. It has open-sourced GLM-130B, a Chinese-English bilingual pre-trained language model with 130 billion parameters capable of Q&A, multi-round conversations, and code generation, as well as ChatGLM-6B, a Chinese-English bilingual language model with 6.2 billion parameters based on the GLM framework.

GLM is a General Language Model pretrained with an autoregressive blank-filling objective and can be finetuned on various natural language understanding and generation tasks.

The startup also introduced CodeGeeX, an AI programming assistant, and CogView, a text-to-image tool.

The investment comes after it fully acquired Light Years Beyond, a generative AI-focused startup founded by Meituan's co-founder Wang Huiwen, for $234 million in June. 

The generative AI arms race is gaining momentum in China, with each company vying to achieve breakthroughs that can revolutionize industries ranging from customer service to content creation and beyond. 

With Zhipu AI and Light Years Beyond on board, Meituan has gained the muscles needed to thrive in the fierce generative AI competition, driving innovation and reshaping the way AI influences our daily lives.