On April 10, Wang Xiaochuan, the founder of Chinese search engine Sogou, announced his foray into large-scale models by co-founding an artificial intelligence company called Baichuan Intelligence with former Sogou COO Ru Liyun. The objective is to develop a Chinese version of OpenAI’s fundamental large-scale model and innovative upper-layer applications. Wang and his associates have already provided $50 million in funding to the new company.
Wang stated that the newly established company has recruited numerous top AI experts from renowned technology firms including Sogou, Baidu, Huawei, Microsoft, ByteDance and Tencent. An elite team of 50 individuals will be formed by the end of April. Wang also mentioned that training for a large model has already commenced and is progressing smoothly. The plan is to develop “China’s best large language model” by the end of this year.
Wang stated, “Living in the early 21st century is so fortunate. The magnificent Internet revolution has not yet ended, and the era of general artificial intelligence is coming. ChatGPT was created only 131 days ago, and there are new advances and breakthroughs every day. 131 days feel like a lifetime! Many friends recognize my technical idealism and technology-driven entrepreneurial experience, encourage and support me to create China’s OpenAI. Many technical experts from Sogou and other companies learned about my idea of building large models, and actively applied to join the team.”
He expressed that his greatest motivation was working alongside a team of idealistic individuals and utilizing advanced technology to develop innovative intelligent products. Baichuan Intelligence will now utilize advancements in language AI to construct China’s most exceptional large-scale model base, which will be applied in various fields such as search, multimodal, education, medical care, and more. This initiative aims to provide the public with easy access to global knowledge and professional services.
Wang, the founder of Sogou, has been instrumental in developing various products such as Sogou Search, Sogou Input Method, and Sogou Browser. He also facilitated strategic investments from Alibaba and Tencent. In 2017, he led Sogou to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. However, after the merger with Tencent on October 15, 2021, Wang resigned as CEO. He then shifted his focus to life sciences and medical fields before being drawn to ChatGPT. Wang praised OpenAI’s success and expressed that “Sogou’s unfinished mission can finally be achieved now that machines have mastered language.”
Ru Liyun, another member of Baidu Intelligence, joined Sogou in 2005 and has held the position of Vice President and COO. Under his leadership, Sogou has undergone multiple technology upgrades and product innovations resulting in the transformation of Sogou Search into China’s second largest search engine with over 500 million monthly active users.