Tencent Backs Large-Scale AI Models with Investment in MiniMax

Tencent has reportedly made its first investment in large-scale AI models, contributing to a new $250 million financing round for startup MiniMax, which values the firm at over $1.2 billion. This move signifies Tencent‘s commitment to the burgeoning field of large AI models, both through internal research and development as well as external investments.

Established in December 2021, MiniMax has grown rapidly, creating proprietary models for text-to-visual, text-to-audio, and text-to-text modalities, and building a computational reasoning platform on top of these foundational architectures. With the rise in popularity of large-scale AI models, largely driven by the success of ChatGPT, MiniMax has quickly emerged as a key player in the AI startup space.

The company has developed a number of products, including “Glow,” a virtual chat software product launched in November last year that allows users to create intelligent entities with background settings and specific personalities. Within four months of its launch, Glow had almost 5 million users.

In February this year, MiniMax revealed plans to open its API interface to the public. In March, the firm launched an API platform for enterprise users that supports the service call of text and voice models. Almost simultaneously, MiniMax launched a generative conversational AI named “Inspo,” which has generated significant attention.

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Recent news highlights that the MiniMax model scored 1188 points on the inaugural leaderboard of the large model competition platform SuperCLUE, ranking second globally. This is the first time a domestic large model has surpassed GPT-3.5 in an open evaluation.

Key members of the MiniMax team include co-founder Junjie Yan, former Vice President of Technology at Sensetime and Head of Universal Intelligence Technology, and Bin Yang, an alumnus of Yan at the Chinese Academy of Sciences who also worked on deep learning projects there before obtaining a PhD at the University of Toronto. The company responsible for registering Inspo and Glow is Beijing Xiyu Technology, represented by Yucong Zhou, who had previously led a team to victory in the iQIYI-Large track of the ICCV 2019 LFR challenge.