Wang Xing, founder and CEO of Meituan (美团, 03690.HK), revealed on an earnings call recently that Meituan will join other tech titans to produce its own equivalent of ChatGPT.
Taking questions from investors regarding its Q1 financial performance on May 25, Wang said the on-demand life service provider has always been open to opportunities in AI-related fields.
He stated that AI will have implications in every aspect of human life and extend beyond applications in mobile phone or internet services.
“Right now an internal team of Meituan is committed to building a self-developed large language model (LLM) and related applications,” he said.
Since the advent of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which has disrupted industries from content creation to customer service, AIGC has been one of the darlings of tech entrepreneurs.
In Wang’s opinion, AIGC will change fundamentally the way people create content and have an impact on Meituan’s business as well.
In response to the opportunities and challenges that arose, the veteran entrepreneur explained that Meituan has accumulated massive proprietary data from years of operation.
“As such, Meituan will conduct investment into AI technologies within the purview of its ability,” he noted, “so as to benefit mankind.”
An enormous amount of data is considered essential to the construction and training of a LLM.
Rumors alleged that as early as the beginning of this year, Meituan had begun research into LLM.
Wang, long known for his sensitivity to new business opportunities, stressed that Meituan as a company is open to external technical collaboration and investment opportunities.
He himself has been an investor of Guangnian Zhiwai, or Beyond Lightyear (光年之外), a startup AI project initiated by Wang Huiwen, a Meituan co-founder and once his right-hand man.
In February, the co-founder declared his intentions to develop a ChatGPT-like service called Guangnian Zhiwai. He then embarked on a vigorous head-hunting campaign to scout for AI talent to join the venture.
In early March, Wang Xing wrote in his WeChat Moments that the emergence of LLM filled him with both excitement at the coming explosion in productivity and concern about its shocks to the whole world.
“Wang (Huiwen) has been an entrepreneurial partner for nearly two decades. Now that he chose to embrace this new wave, I must back him,” Wang wrote, adding that he will participate in the Series A financing of Guangnian Zhiwai and join its board of directors.
In Q1, Meituan recorded 58.62 billion yuan (US$8.29 billion) in revenue, up 26.7% year on year. Its R&D spending amounted to 5 billion yuan during the same period.
A breakdown suggests that its core local business revenue jumped 25.5% to 42.9 billion yuan, and other new businesses grossed 15.7 billion yuan, an increase of 30.1%.