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Moonshot AI: The Chinese Unicorn Revolutionizing Long-Context AI

How to Reach a $2.5 Billion Valuation in 1 Year, the Tech Behind the Models, AGI Layers, and Plans to Surpass Global Competitors

Last week, we covered Zhipu AI, a Chinese GenAI unicorn with a $2.5 billion valuation and a unique LLM. But while working on it, we kept coming across Moonshot AI, another Chinese AI unicorn with strong ties to Tsinghua University. Also valued at $2.5 billion, this startup is only one year old. It claims, though, that models like Google's PaLM, Meta's LLaMa, and Stable Diffusion have adopted many core technologies authored by the Moonshot AI team. On its website, the company is also referred to by several other names, including 月之暗面, transliterated as YueZhiAnMian, which directly translates to "Dark Side of the Moon," a homage to Pink Floyd’s legendary album – a personal favorite of co-founder Yang Zhilin. Why the company is so influential, how it disrupts the long-context window, what are three layers of AGI, will Chinese companies be ready to rival the US companies? Curious to know what’s on that dark side of the moon? Let’s give it a shot!

Table of Contents

$1 billion round in one year! How it all started?

Called one of the four new AI tigers of China (along with Zhipu AI, Baichuan, and MiniMax), Moonshot AI was established just over a year ago, in March 2023, by Yang Zhilin, an assistant professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Information at Tsinghua University. Yang, who studied computer science at Tsinghua University and holds a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University, invited Zhou Xinyu and Wu Yuxin, ex-students of Tsinghua University as well, to collaborate on large-scale AI models with a particular focus on long-context windows.

It’s truly remarkable that, in less than a year, Moonshot AI shocked everyone with a $1 billion round and a staggering valuation of $2.5 billion. To understand why the investors believed in them, we will need to understand who the founders are. They are all in their early 30s, but their achievements are impressive and at the edge of technology.

Founders’ technical background and how it influences Moonshot AI products

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