Four Chinese startups focusing on generative artificial intelligence (AI) have each surpassed $1 billion in valuation as the race to compete with rivals like OpenAI hots up. 

The new unicorn companies reportedly include Zhipu AI, Moonshot AI, MiniMax, and These companies have received support from local investors and are now looking to onboard talent to develop AI products.

OpenAI remains in the lead in terms of valuation and tech development. On Feb. 17, the San Francisco-based AI firm inked a deal that increased its valuation to over $80 billion.

However, while OpenAI is still on top of the AI race, its AI chatbot ChatGPT is unavailable in China, allowing startups in the country to compete for market share in the AI space.

Currently, 262 AI-focused startups are attempting to present ChatGPT alternatives to the Chinese population, according to data provider IT Juzi.

Among those at the head of the pack, Zhipu AI had the most employees. According to the Financial Times, the AI company has 800 staff and is valued at $2.5 billion after its latest fundraising round in March.

Zhipu is backed by big names in the region like Alibaba Cloud, Tencent, Xiaomi, National Social Security Fund and many others. However, the company did not fully disclose how much it raised.

Apart from Zhipu, another AI firm called Moonshot has also reached a valuation of $2.5 billion. The firm focuses on students and office workers who use digital assistants to summarize text. Moonshot’s AI chatbot Kimi gained over 12 million visits in March and is growing quickly.

The company is backed by Alibaba, Xiaohongshu, Meituan, HongShan, ZhenFund and Monolith Management.

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Meanwhile, Shanghai-based MiniMax, valued at $2.5 billion, targets the gaming market by using anime-themed characters. These avatars joke around and even flirt with the user while generating their responses.

The firm received investments from Alibaba, Tencent, HongShan, Hillhouse and Future Capital.

Of the four newly minted unicorns, lags behind the others with its $1.2 billion valuation. The firm launched a series of open-source models, customized for the Chinese market. It also launched a chatbot called Wanzhi, which focuses on productivity.

The AI company also received investments from Alibaba Cloud and Xiaomi. It’s also backed by Sinovation Ventures and Shunwei Capital.

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