Founder of Moonshot AI Cashed out Tens of Millions of USD

On Tuesday, following the completion of the previous funding round, Yang Zhilin, the founder of Moonshot AI, has cashed out tens of millions of US dollars by selling his personal shares, per Chinese media Jiemian.

As a startup, Moonshot AI has been in operation for just one year. According to company profile platform Tianyancha App, Yang Zhilin holds a 78.968% stake in “Beijing Moonshot AI Technology Co., Ltd.,” making him the largest shareholder.

In February, Moonshot AI successfully raised a new round of $1 billion, with Alibaba leading the investment and participation from institutions such as Sequoia China, Xiaohongshu, and Meituan, valuing the company at over $25 billion post-investment.

Sources familiar with the matter disclosed that the recent funding round for Moonshot AI involved some old stock transactions, but existing shareholders like Sequoia did not sell their shares. “There are rumors that the founder and related individuals have cashed out around $40 million,” said an industry investor to Interface News reporters. “It’s rare for a company to cash out this much in its first year.”

Yang Zhilin graduated from the Department of Computer Science at Tsinghua University and holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. His entrepreneurial journey began in 2016 with the establishment of Recurrent AI, a technology enterprise services company. In March 2023, he founded Moonshot AI, which has already become one of the six unicorns in the field of general large models in China.

Moonshot AI has garnered significant attention in the capital market. In June 2023, the company completed a 2 billion RMB angel round of financing, with investors including Sequoia China, ZhenFund, and IDG Capital; in July of the same year, they completed a Series A1 round of financing led by Meituan Longzhu. The latest round is a $1 billion investment led by Alibaba.

Upon Yang Zhilin’s entry into the AI large model field, the industry witnessed a major controversy surrounding his differing views with Zhu Xiaohu, Managing Partner of GGV Capital, on the value of closed-source underlying large models. While the former strongly believes in the value of closed-source large models at the foundational level, the latter, for reasons of commercial efficiency, only invests in large model applications.

Zhu Xiaohu has explicitly stated that most of China’s foundational large model companies have no future, and he will not invest in any of them, but he expressed optimism about Yang Zhilin. In fact, in Yang Zhilin’s previous entrepreneurial project, Recurrent AI, GGV Capital participated as an angel investor in all financing rounds.

In the domestic AI large model race, Moonshot AI is indeed a coveted target for capital and top talent across various sectors. From a capital perspective, Moonshot AI’s valuation already surpasses that of the entire top-tier camp. Apart from Minimax, which also enjoys support from Alibaba and Sequoia and is valued at over $25 billion, other companies like Zhipu AI are valued at around 10 billion RMB, Zero One Tech at over $1 billion, Bai Chuan Intelligence at over $1 billion, and Jieyue Xingchen has no publicly disclosed valuation.

On the product front, Moonshot AI’s intelligent assistant Kimi Chat is the first “hot-selling” product in this field, standing out among numerous AI large model companies in China with its “long-text” label. It has broken the stereotype of homogeneity in products and indistinguishable technologies in this industry. Even as a startup, Moonshot AI has created a Kimi concept stock sector in the secondary market, a rare occurrence that has influenced market sentiment.

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