On March 22, Tencent Holdings Limited (00700. HK)， a leading provider of value-added Internet services in China, held the earnings call for the fourth quarter and full year of 2022.
During the conference call, when asked about opportunities related to the AI field, Tencent's management publicly confirmed the launch of a ChatGPT-like chatbot product and disclosed corresponding progress for the first time.
According to Tencent, "Artificial intelligence is a business opportunity we can build over time, not a business threat that we must tackle immediately. In terms of business, artificial intelligence is a growth accelerator for us, which can help us improve our existing business and promote new business."
"We firmly believe that AI will become an amplifier of the company's future business growth because our business focuses on the social, communication and game fields, which means that it mainly revolves around the interaction between users. Thus, generative AI and basic model technology can complement and optimize these businesses but will not pose a threat to these businesses. "said Martin Lau, President of Tencent.
Therefore, the strategy Tencent will adopt is to invest in various resources to build its own basic model and apply it to every business line of Tencent. This will also help the company explore new opportunities and bring Tencent's advantages between users to the field of human-computer interaction.
Based on Tencent's investment portfolio (a total of 1040 companies as of March 2023, data from QCC (Chinese: 企查查)), EqualOcean has identified four AI companies Tencent owns/has meaningful stakes in. This article will take you to have a closer look at their latest developments and associated criticism, consequently gaining a glimpse of Tencent's AI map.
1.Zenvideo (Chinese: 腾讯智影); Tencent Stakes: 100.0%
Founded in December 2016, Hangzhou Huichuan Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd. (Chinese: 杭州慧川智能科技有限公司) is an "AI + video" enterprise. Its artificial intelligence online cloud video platform "Zhiying (Chinese: 智影)" provides one-stop solutions for video websites, media organizations, and information video products， aiming to improve the production efficiency and quality of video content, as well as more creative space and freedom for creators. Its latest artificial intelligence technology is a clone model generated by deep learning from a small amount of actual audio and video data.
Tencent completed the full acquisition of the company in 2021. On March 30, 2023, Tencent officially released a new AI intelligent creation assistant, "Tencent Zenvideo (Chinese: 腾讯智影)," which provides content creators with a series of intelligent creation tools to help creators improve the quality and efficiency of content creation. On the same day, Yao Tianheng, Deputy General Manager of Tencent's content platform department, gave the opening speech through his digital human "tycoon (Chinese: 大亨)" at the Newrank Conference.
For the next-step development plan, Yao Tianheng said that Zenvideo would further strengthen the research and exploration of AIGC technology, continue to tap its potential application value and possibility and reduce the price of products such as digital humans and voice customization.
Associated criticism: Zenvideo offers three types of services: free version, advanced member version, and professional member version. The free version provides 5 minutes of digital human and avatar services, the most attractive feature of this app, per month. The time extends to 10 and 15 minutes for the advanced and professional member editions. Zenvideo charges advanced members and professional members monthly CNY48 and CNY88 fees, and they need to pay additional fees for exceeding the usage time. Most online users believe the membership fees are too expensive, considering the limited services received.
2. RaysightMed (Chinese: 睿心智能医疗); Tencent Stakes: 20.7%
RaysightMed is a Chinese healthcare company that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and big data technology to provide diagnostic and treatment recommendations to healthcare providers. In January 2021, RaysightMed announced the completion of the B-round financing of nearly CNY 300 million, led by Tencent, followed by the old shareholder Matrix Partners China. Its latest round of funding disclosed was in August 2021.
RaysightMed is committed to establishing a whole-course data-intelligence treatment and diagnosis platform ranging from preoperative mass screening and precise diagnosis, intraoperative intelligent operating room, to postoperative chronic disease management, empowering medical practitioners with "brain," "eyes," and "hands" beyond the limits. Its coronary artery disease postprocessing platform, "Ruixin Coronary AI," has been certified by NMPA.
Associated criticism: While RaysightMed is subject to data privacy and security regulations, there are currently no specific regulations governing the use of AI in healthcare in China. This lack of regulatory oversight could allow the company to operate without sufficient scrutiny, potentially putting patients at risk.
3. Silicon Intelligence (Chinese: 硅基智能); Tencent Stakes: 17.7%
Silicon Intelligence is a technology company that specializes in developing advanced hardware and software solutions for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications. In April 2019, Silicon Intelligence announced the completion of its sixth financing round, exclusively invested by Tencent. In December 2020, Silicon Intelligence announced that it had raised CNY 65 million in a Series C+ funding round led by CPE, with participation from existing investors, including Sequoia Capital China, GGV Capital, Shunwei Capital, and Yunfeng Capital. The funding was intended to help the company expand its operations and accelerate its growth. The company has successfully secured financing investments due to its strong technological capabilities and market potential.
With the self-developed DUIX operating system as the core, Silicon Intelligence provides customers with a nearly unlimited supply of digital employees, significantly reducing organizational costs and rapidly improving administrative efficiency. The company has highly skilled engineers and researchers dedicated to developing cutting-edge AI and ML technologies, with over 50 authorized patents. Additionally, the company's technologies can be applied to multiple industries and nearly 40,000 enterprises and have been widely recognized for their accuracy, efficiency, and scalability.
4. Mininglamp Technology (Chinese: 明略科技); Tencent Stakes: 17.5%
Mininglamp Technology is a Chinese company that provides big data analytics and artificial intelligence solutions to various industries, aiming to apply the new generation of AI technology in sectors requiring complicated knowledge and management. One of Mininglamp's key offerings is its AI-powered data analysis platform, which can process massive amounts of unstructured data to extract valuable business insights. The platform uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to analyze data from various sources, such as social media, news articles, and customer reviews, to provide businesses with real-time insights into consumer behavior, market trends, and other essential factors.
Mininglamp has also developed several industry-specific solutions, such as its finance-focused "AI Trader" platform, which uses deep learning algorithms to predict stock prices and provide investment recommendations. The company has also developed an AI-powered medical imaging platform to help doctors quickly and accurately diagnose diseases from medical images.
Over the years, the company has raised substantial financing investments, allowing it to scale and expand its business operations. The lasted two financing rounds happened in 2018 and 2020. On December 2018, Mininglamp Technology announced the completion of the E+ round of financing of USD 200 million. Russia-China Investment Fund led the investment, and the old shareholders Tencent and Hongzhuo Capital continued to increase their investment, and Oriental Pearl Media Industry Fund (Chinese: 东方明珠传媒产业基金), Greater Bay Area Common Home Investment Company, CITIC Securities Investment, Singapore Dahua Venture Capital (Chinese: 大湾区共同家园投资公司), Capthrone and China Sky Global followed suit.
In 2020, the company raised USD 300 million in its Series E+ funding round, which was led by Chinese state-owned enterprises, including CITIC Securities, China Electronics Corporation, and State Development & Investment Corporation. The funding will support Mininglamp's expansion into new markets, including overseas markets, and the development of new products.
Associated criticism: In September 2020, Mininglamp Technology filed a lawsuit against Silicon Valley-based company Palantir Technologies, accusing the latter of stealing trade secrets and breaching a contract. The two companies, both specializing in data analytics and software development, are currently locked in a dispute that could have significant implications for the tech industry. The case is still ongoing, and it remains to be seen how it will be resolved. If Mininglamp is successful in its claims, Palantir could face significant damages and legal repercussions. However, if Palantir can successfully defend itself against the allegations, it could set a precedent for future cases involving trade secret theft and breach of contract. The lawsuit highlights Mininglamp Technology's carelessness regarding protecting intellectual property rights and trade secrets. As the company continues to develop innovative technologies and software solutions, it must be more vigilant in protecting its confidential information and proprietary algorithms.