Valued at $1B, Kai-Fu Lee’s LLM startup unveils open source model

This TechCrunch article written by Rita Liao, reports on Kai-Fu Lee, the venture capitalist and computer scientist wants to create an OpenAI equivalent for China.

Kai-Fu Lee, the computer scientist known in the West for his bestseller “AI Superpowers” and in China for his bets on artificial intelligence unicorns, has a new venture — and a great ambition.

In late March, Lee launched a company called 01.AI with the vision to develop a homegrown large language model for the Chinese market. The venture puts him in competition with other prominent Chinese tech leaders, including Sogou’s founder Wang Xiaochuan, who have been swiftly gathering talent and venture capital to establish China’s equivalents of OpenAI.

“I think necessity is the mother of innovation, and there’s clearly a huge necessity in China,” Lee, who’s 61 and leading 01.AI as CEO, told TechCrunch in an interview, explaining the motive behind starting the company. “Unlike the rest of the world, China doesn’t have access to OpenAI and Google because those two companies did not make their products available in China, so I think many doing LLM are trying to do their part in creating a solution for a market that really needs this.”

01.AI’s growth is a fitting reflection of the rapid development in the generative AI field. Seven months after its founding, the startup has released its first model, the open source Yi-34B. The decision to introduce an open LLM as its debut product is a way to “give back” to society, said Lee. For people who have felt LLaMA is a “godsend” to them, “we’ve provided a compelling alternative,” he added.

Please click on this link to read the full article.

Image credit: Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

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