Meituan’s Billionaire Co-Founder Joins China’s AI Chatbot Rush
Billionaire Meituan co-founder Wang Xing is clambering aboard a global investment wave to create ChatGPT-like AI bots.
Wang, who’s largely stayed out of the limelight in recent years, declared in a WeChat post he’ll join a Series A investment round for fellow Meituan co-founder Wang Huiwen’s AI startup. The billionaire becomes the latest Chinese tech executive to throw his weight behind the quest to top OpenAI’s creation, which has taken the global industry by storm since its November debut.
“The AI model makes me excited about the huge productivity that will be created, but also worried about its future impact on the whole world,” said Wang, who rarely posts on WeChat and prefers a social media service he himself founded years ago. “Wang and I have been together on the road of entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. Since he is determined to embrace this big wave, I must support him.”
The declaration comes days after Chinese regulators said they planned to introduce rules to govern the use of artificial intelligence across a swath of industries. The introduction of regulations may be intended to ensure ChatGPT-like services hew to the Communist Party’s non-negotiable censorship of controversial or undesirable content online.
But it could also be a boon to companies like Baidu Inc., providing clearer ground rules for future services. Baidu’s shares soared after Bloomberg News first reported plans for a ChatGPT-like service. It has since reaffirmed the rollout of its “Ernie Bot” conversational AI in March, while Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has said it’s working to integrate generative AI in several of its products. Other high-profile Chinese enterprises, including brokerage China International Capital Corp., are already experimenting with the technology’s potential and limitations.
Wang, who built Meituan into the world’s largest meal delivery service, has previously talked about the benefits of applying AI across the internet. Wang Huiwen first declared his intention to build a ChatGPT-like service last month, without disclosing details.