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Saturday, Apr 13, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

AI and Autonomy

Alibaba leads largest-ever funding round for a Chinese AI startup

Moonshot AI is now worth US$2.5 billion after the US$1 billion Series B funding; the startup released its Kimi chatbot last fall

Alibaba leads largest-ever funding round for a Chinese AI startup valued at US$1B
Alibaba's office in Milan, Italy. Photo credit: Alibaba Group

Amidst the artificial intelligence revolution, the multinational e-commerce and technology company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd – ADR (NYSE: BABA) has completed the largest funding round for a Chinese AI startup in history.

After completing the US$1 billion Series B funding, Moonshot AI is now valued at approximately US$2.5 billion, multiple sources reported in late February. The startup was founded in March last year and released the large language model chatbot Kimi in November.

Moonshot claims that Kimi can process 200,000 Chinese characters in a single conversation, TechCrunch reported. That alleged number represents eight times the capacity of industry leader OpenAI’s most advanced version of ChatGPT.

The company‘s name was inspired by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It is Founder Yang Zhilin’s favourite album. Zhilin is developing another AI startup as well that has raised about US$60 million to date — Recurrent.AI.

The investment firm Monolith Management assisted Alibaba with the recent funding round along with the Chinese arm of California’s Sequoia Capital: HongShan. Despite multiple reports from local Chinese media like 36kr on the matter, the parties involved have generally declined to comment.

“Other Chinese AI startups raising significant amounts from investors include Baichuan and Zhipu,” TIME Magazine reported.

Read more: Reddit inks major AI training deal with Google, files for public listing in New York

Read more: Nvidia CEO foresees tech advances to keep AI cost in check

Alibaba shares started sliding during COVID, no sign of stopping

Alibaba’s Q4 income from its operations dropped by 36 per cent year-over-year in 2023 to about US$3.2 billion. The company has divested about US$1.7 billion worth of non-core assets this fiscal year ending in March thus far. Its shares have slid by over 300 per cent per cent since the fall of 2020.

The tech giant has been encountering economic and regulatory challenges in recent years.

Despite a continually evolving and growing AI industry, Chinese AI firms raised about 70 per cent less funding last year than in 2022 at around US$2 billion.


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