01.AI Seeks $200 Million Investment to Accelerate Open-Source AI Models


  • Beijing-based 01.AI aims to secure $200 million in new funding.
  • Recent $1 billion valuation fueled by global interest in open-source AI models.
  • Chinese companies, including 01.AI, compete with Meta and Alibaba to engage users in the open-source AI model race.
  • Founded by former Google China CEO Lee Kai-fu, 01.AI reached a $1 billion valuation in November.
  • The company is actively seeking additional investments in U.S. dollars.
  • The confidentiality of funding discussions has led to anonymity for sources.
  • In November, 01.AI’s Yi-34B model became the first Chinese LLM to top Huggingface’s rankings.
  • Increased investment in open-source AI models within the industry.
  • OpenAI remains cautious about open-sourcing its models due to concerns about potential misuse.
  • Alibaba’s cloud subsidiary actively embraces open-source LLMs, with the Qwen-72B model leading in performance.
  • The market sees the rise of open-source AI models as Alibaba Cloud actively supports smaller companies like 01.AI.

Main AI News:

Beijing-based AI firm 01.AI is actively pursuing a substantial funding round, with insider reports indicating that the company is aiming to secure up to $200 million in new capital. This strategic move comes on the heels of 01.AI’s recent achievement of a remarkable $1 billion valuation, spurred by the surging global interest in open-source AI models.

01.AI joins a growing cadre of Chinese enterprises eager to introduce their extensive language models to the public domain, aligning themselves with industry giants such as Meta and Alibaba. This collective endeavor signifies a concerted push to engage users and bridge the gap with OpenAI, the foremost player in the field.

Founded in July by Lee Kai-fu, former CEO of Google China, 01.AI swiftly ascended to its billion-dollar valuation just a few months later in November. The company’s aspirations reach beyond its native market, as it actively seeks additional investments in U.S. dollars to fuel its growth trajectory.

Due to the confidentiality surrounding these funding discussions, the sources quoted in this report have requested anonymity. Despite our efforts to reach out, 01.AI has not yet provided a comment on the matter.

In November, 01.AI garnered significant attention within the open-source large language model (LLM) community when its Yi-34B model achieved a remarkable milestone. It became the first Chinese LLM to lead Huggingface’s rankings, a prominent platform for IT companies to share LLMs, where models are assessed based on their performance and popularity.

This surge of interest in generative artificial intelligence (AI) has prompted substantial investments in these ventures, all of which have pledged to open their AI models to the public. According to Chinese media reports, the valuation of Zhipu AI, established in 2019, has soared past the $1 billion mark.

Moreover, Baichuan Technology, backed by solid investments in October, reached a valuation of $1.2 billion, as confirmed by a reliable source with direct knowledge of the transaction.

Navigating the Skepticism: OpenAI’s Perspective

While the open-source LLM movement gains momentum, OpenAI, the creator of the popular ChatGPT chatbot, remains cautious. OpenAI has opted to keep its model codes tightly guarded, citing concerns about potential misuse that could pose risks to society.

In contrast, Alibaba’s cloud subsidiary in China has embraced an aggressive approach to open-sourcing its LLMs. Their latest offering, the Qwen-72B model, recently claimed the top spot on Huggingface’s leaderboard, becoming the second Chinese model to achieve this distinction.

Qwen-72B represents the pinnacle of Alibaba’s eight AI models released over the past four months and is recognized by industry benchmarks for its superior Chinese language processing capabilities, potentially surpassing OpenAI’s flagship GPT4.

Jingren Zhou, Chief Technology Officer of Alibaba Cloud, emphasizes the significance of fostering an open-source ecosystem for LLMs and AI applications. He remarked, “Creating an open-source ecosystem is critical to promoting the development of LLM and AI applications. Alibaba Cloud aspires to become the most open cloud and make generative AI capabilities accessible to everyone.”

Alibaba Cloud actively supports smaller open-source AI LLM companies, including 01.AI, collaborating on model training and deployment processes. Insider sources reveal that AliCloud has already pledged financial support in the ongoing funding round, signaling their commitment to the broader AI community’s growth and development.


The quest for $200 million in funding by 01.AI underscores the intense competition among Chinese AI firms to dominate the open-source AI model space. With a $1 billion valuation already achieved and a focus on attracting U.S. investments, 01.AI is positioned for rapid growth. This push towards open-source AI models, despite skepticism from OpenAI, reflects a growing trend in the industry. As Alibaba Cloud actively supports smaller players, it signifies a robust market for accessible generative AI capabilities, ultimately fostering innovation and competition.