Amidst the ChatGPT frenzy this year, China’s artificial intelligence (AI) market witnessed its first acquisition. On March 27, a report by 36Kr revealed that Lightyear Technology, an AI company founded by Wang Huiwen – the billionaire co-founder of Chinese food delivery giant Meituan – will acquire Beijing OneFlow Technology, an AI architecture startup.
Wang Xing, CEO of Meituan, announced a personal investment in Lightyear Technology which has already obtained investments from funds such as Source Code Capital and ZhenFund. Liu Jiang, vice president of the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence, has also joined the team.
Wang Huiwen is set to dedicate more time and effort to the new project. Meituan made an announcement on March 24 that Wang would be transitioning from his role as an executive director to a non-executive director. Since retiring from Meituan in January 2020, Wang has been serving as both an executive director and honorary advisor at the company, contributing to strategic planning, organizational succession, and talent development. The reason for his resignation as an executive director is primarily due to his desire to focus on other business ventures and personal matters.
OneFlow Technology is a startup that specializes in deep learning frameworks. Founded in 2017, the company’s CEO and founder, Yuan Jinhui, holds a Ph.D. in engineering from Tsinghua University’s Department of Computer Science and has previously worked as a senior researcher at Microsoft Research Asia.
To train AI, three core elements are required: data, algorithms, and computing power. The current trend in ChatGPT is fueled by the development of large-scale AI models. OneFlow’s framework aims to enhance computing power for this purpose.
The deep learning framework is widely acknowledged as the most crucial infrastructure in the field of AI, serving as a bridge between algorithms and applications on one side and chips on the other. OneFlow’s deep learning framework can rival Baidu‘s PaddlePaddle, Google’s TensorFlow, and Facebook’s PyTorch. Additionally, OneFlow offers another product called OneBrain that serves as an all-in-one AI development center for data scientists by integrating data processing, model development, model management, and model publishing. Furthermore, OneFlow provides an AI training platform that furnishes online programming environments and GPU computing power to assist developers in creating and deploying models quickly.
Large-scale model developers can supplement their computing power with capital, obtain data through resources, and face the most challenging area in the algorithm framework. By acquiring OneFlow, Wang has gained critical support for his goal of building a “Chinese version of OpenAI” specifically in terms of algorithms.
On March 26, Ma Zhankai announced that he would be joining Lightyear Technology. Ma is a former consultant for Meituan and previously worked as a product manager at Sogou, a Chinese technology company that provides a search engine. During his time at Sogou, he was responsible for the development of its input method.
Wang is still actively recruiting for Lightyear Technology. He recently announced that the company now has three co-founders, including himself. One of the co-founders has experience in infrastructure, while the other has a background in algorithms. According to Wang, both co-founders possess strong practical abilities and have made cutting-edge academic research achievements in their respective fields. The team is excited about working together and looks forward to welcoming more tech talents with big dreams to join them at Lightyear Technology.