BEIJING, March 16 (TMTPOST)— TikTok parent ByteDance Ltd. was said to embrace a new investor engaged in artificial intelligence (AI), a booming industry amid the tech recession.
Source: Visual China
Through its 42X Fund, G42, an AI and cloud computing technology company founded in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), recently acquired stakes worth of more than $100 million in ByteDance, valuing the Chinese internet giant at about $220 billion, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter on Wednesday. Another fund was reported to invest in at a post-money valuation of $225 billion shortly after. Valuation in the deal with G42 doesn’t reflect possible fallout of the Silicon Valley Bank’s failure, which became the largest closure since 2008 financial crisis in the U.S. finance industry, the report added.
Neither 42X Fund nor ByteDance responded to the report yet. Whatever the recent banking crisis affect, the approximately $220 billion valuation of ByteDance has been a big discount to that in last October, when the unlisted company was reportedly valued around $300 billion following the second stock option buyback in 2022. It was also well below a peak of about $460 billion in 2021, when Tiger Global Management said it spent $1.1 billion to take the company’s shares.
G42 is under control of Zayed Al Nahyan, a key member of UAE’s ruling family, who is also the emirate’s national security advisor. It was said last month to seek building teams in Shanghai, Singapore, Jakarta and Tel Aviv for its $10 billion tech fund 42X Fund, targeting technology investments across the relevant Asian countries as well as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and many hedge funds could be its investment partners.
G42’s investment came as Chinese tech firms ramping up their as a catch-up following a frenzy exuberated by OpenAI"s chatbot CHATGPT. In the beginning of February, Baidu confirmed launch of ChatGPT-style Ernie Bot, and said the AI-powered conversational bot is set to be available for the public when it ends internal testing in March. Days after the announcement, news about Alibaba’s ChatGPT-like application labeled “pre-release” was circulated online. The e-commerce superpower was said to have entered into the stage of internal testing and name of the app has not been finalized yet.
ByteDance has dividied its working on AI models into two teams: one is engaged in language models and another focuses on large vision models, Chinese digital news media outlet 36Kr learned in three weeks ago. Both leaders of these teams report to Zhu Wenjia, head of TikTok’s research and development team, sources of the media said. ByteDance responded that some technology staff did have development in the abovementioned sector, though their work is at an early stage.
A report in late February said WeChat owner Tencent Holdings Ltd. has launched an AI-powered conversational project dubbed HunyuanAide, and members at the new project will collaborate with multiple teams inside the company to create large language models with a great number of parameters. Tencent has appointed its Chief Scientist Zhengyou Zhang as owner of HunyuanAide and the project has at least seven team leaders and seven sponsors, almost all the officials involved are key figures at the behemoth, according to the report. Tencent has long been working at the AI related offerings and has promoted its special research in an orderly manner, the company responded later. It vowed to have further development and exploration on the cutting-edge technologies based on previous expertise on AI large models, machine learning algorithms and Natural language processing (NLP).