Chinese tech giant Tencent has made its first foray into the world of large-scale AI models by investing in an up-and-coming tech startup MiniMax. The investment, amounting to 250 million USD, has propelled MiniMax’s valuation to over 1.2 billion USD, signalling Tencent’s strong commitment to the rapidly expanding field of large AI models.
The latest move reflects the global AI buzz surrounding OpenAI’s ChatGPT which has quickly made its way into China, prompting domestic tech companies to begin developing their own cutting-edge AI products to stay competitive. In late 2022, Tencent had taken down ChatGPT from WeChat and any related mini-programs on the premise that “the content [belonged] to the platform’s unopened service scope”.
Founded in 2021, MiniMax has experienced remarkable growth in a short period. The company specializes in developing proprietary models for text-to-visual, text-to-audio, and text-to-text applications, with a focus on computational reasoning platforms built upon these foundational architectures. With the exponential rise in the demand for large-scale AI models, fueled in part by the success of ChatGPT, MiniMax has quickly emerged as a key player in the AI startup landscape.
Among MiniMax’s notable achievements is the creation of “Glow”, a virtual chat software product launched in 2022 that allows users to generate intelligent entities with unique backgrounds and personalities. Within just four months of its release, Glow attracted nearly 5 million users, showcasing the company’s ability to captivate a sizable audience.
Not only has MiniMax gained significant attention by launching a generative conversational AI called “Inspo”. According to Pandaily, it has also made headlines by achieving an impressive score of 1188 points on a leading large model competition platform. This feat positions MiniMax’s model in second place globally, surpassing the acclaimed GPT-3.5 in an open evaluation, a significant milestone for the domestic large model industry.
All in all, Tencent’s investment in MiniMax not only highlights the startup’s potential and rapid growth but also underscores Tencent’s dedication to advancing large AI models through both internal research and external investments.