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Meituan buys founder’s months-old ‘OpenAI for China’ for $234M


One of China’s most highly anticipated artificial intelligence startups is undergoing a significant change of direction.

Light Year, which was founded merely four months ago by Wang Huiwen, a co-founder of Meituan, with the ambition of becoming the “OpenAI for China”, is getting bought out. In a filing released on Thursday, Meituan announced that it will be fully acquiring Light Year for $233.7 million in cash.

The deal also includes $50.66 million worth of debt and paying the AI startup’s investors, Qimai, which is controlled by Meituan’s current CEO Wang Xing, $5 million, as well as HongShan, which was called Sequoia China before the recent restructuring of the fund, $28 million.

The acquisition came shortly after Meituan announced Wang Huiwen was resigning from all his corporate roles at the food delivery giant due to health reasons. A widely circulated blog post claiming knowledge of the matter said Wang had been diagnosed with depression, sparking discussion on entrepreneurs’ mental health issues in China’s tech community.

Light Year had had net cash of around $285 million as of June 29, the filing says.

Stay tune. More analysis to come…



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