Home Alibaba headlines record funding for $2.5 billion Chinese AI startup

Alibaba headlines record funding for $2.5 billion Chinese AI startup

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is the headline backer supporting the largest single financing round for a significant Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) initiative.

The e-commerce giant led the funding in Moonshot AI, with the $1 billion round turbo-charging the new company’s valuation to the tune of $2.5 billion, according to sources close to Bloomberg. Existing backers Monolith Management, Long-Z, and Hongshan also returned to the table.

Alibaba’s backing for the startup appears to indicate the allocation of capital in the pursuit of growth, as it follows the path taken by the likes of Tencent Holdings and Microsoft in placing faith in Generative AI. It is the emerging technology powering applications such as ChatGPT as industries move toward AI.

Change of direction

Under the new leadership of chairman Joseph Tsai and CEO Eddie Wu, Alibaba aims to reverse its fortunes after two years of struggles beset by regulatory scrutiny and an economic downturn. The duo are leading the foray into new technologies with key investments while also diverging business lines into areas such as cloud tech and logistics.

Tsai indicated the cloud space now hosts half of China’s Generative AI firms while also serving around 80% of the country’s technology companies.

Moonshot AI will mark its first anniversary next month, so this landmark valuation on the back of the funding deal will provide a timely boost as it aims to build on its reputation as a player in the Chinese AI field. It has ambitions to eventually challenge OpenAI and Google, having launched its Kimi chatbot last November, followed by a platform for developers to build AI applications plugged into its model.

The news has emerged, with the parties involved appearing reticent to comment on developments. At the time of writing, there has been no official statement from Moonshot, while Monolith and Alibaba have not offered any comment on the investment funding, first reported by local Chinese media, including 36kr.

Image: Alibaba/X

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Graeme Hanna
Tech Journalist

Graeme Hanna is a full-time, freelance writer with significant experience in online news as well as content writing. Since January 2021, he has contributed as a football and news writer for several mainstream UK titles including The Glasgow Times, Rangers Review, Manchester Evening News, MyLondon, Give Me Sport, and the Belfast News Letter. Graeme has worked across several briefs including news and feature writing in addition to other significant work experience in professional services. Now a contributing news writer at ReadWrite.com, he is involved with pitching relevant content for publication as well as writing engaging tech news stories.

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