Artificial intelligence, or AI, has reached critical mass in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. With companies like Microsoft, IBM, Google, Apple, Baidu, Tencent, Intel and others pouring billions of dollars into AI startups and acquisitions every year, it’s hard to keep track of which companies are leading the way in this rapidly-evolving sector of tech. The following list offers a detailed breakdown of the five most valuable AI unicorns today , A Look at the Top 5 AI Unicorns

1) Alphabet

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is one of the top five most valuable companies in the world, with a market cap of over $700 billion. Not only is Alphabet a major player in the tech industry, but it also has a hand in many other industries, such as self-driving cars and life sciences. And with its recent purchase of DeepMind, an AI company, it’s clear that Alphabet is interested in furthering its reach into the world of artificial intelligence. The latest move by Alphabet to enter the AI space is acquiring X (formerly known as Google X), which will allow it to focus on more experimental technologies for future products. With this move, Alphabet joins Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM as one of the largest players in the space.

A Look at the Top 5 AI Unicorns
A Look at the Top 5 AI Unicorns

2) Baidu

Baidu is a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in Internet-related services and products, artificial intelligence (AI), and deep learning. Founded in 2000, it is one of the largest AI companies in the world. Baidu’s core technology is big data and machine learning. The company has been investing heavily in AI, with a research lab devoted to deep learning and another one focusing on computer vision. Baidu created an alliance with major global automakers Volkswagen, Ford Motor Company, GM, Honda Motor Company and Hyundai Motor Company that aims to develop autonomous vehicles together. In December 2016, the company announced Apollo: an open-source self-driving car project that will deliver comprehensive smart mobility solutions for private car owners as well as commercial carmakers. Apollo will be composed of three parts: 1) ADAS 2) Autonomous driving 3) Car life management system

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3) Alibaba

Alibaba is a Chinese multinational conglomerate specializing in e-commerce, retail, Internet, and technology. Founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, Alibaba is one of the world’s largest online marketplaces. In 2014, Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales reached $9.3 billion, making it the world’s largest online shopping event. It was the second most visited website in China that year. It operates as an online marketplace, an electronic commerce company, an internet corporation, and as a cloud computing company. For its fiscal year ending March 31, 2016, Alibaba recorded revenues of US$4.7 billion. The company reported net income of US$837 million for the same period.

A Look at the Top 5 AI Unicorns
A Look at the Top 5 AI Unicorns

Alibaba currently has more than 102,000 full-time employees worldwide with about 35% working in Alibaba Cloud Services Division (formerly Aliyun), 34% working in Business Services Division (formerly Alipay) and 24% working in core Commerce Division (formerly Taobao Marketplace).

The majority of revenue generated from international markets comes from merchants using Tmall to sell to consumers outside China, with key sources including South Korea, Japan, USA and Southeast Asia.

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Sales are fulfilled primarily through Juhuasuan retail site on Taobao Marketplace which had over 160 million product listings as of October 2015.

4) Tencent

Tencent is a Chinese multinational conglomerate holding company founded in 1998, with operations in various industries including telecommunications, e-commerce, internet services, and artificial intelligence. As of June 2019, Tencent’s market value was US$475 billion. In 2018, Tencent became the world’s fifth-largest Internet company by revenue. The core components of its business include social networking, mobile games, music streaming and video streaming. Tencent uses technologies such as machine learning for security purposes, personalization for targeted advertising purposes and for improving natural language processing performance. It owns one of China’s two leading smartphone platforms alongside Alibaba Group. In the third quarter of 2017, WeChat had 938 million monthly active users while QQ had 857 million monthly active users. In January 2016, Tencent acquired an 18% stake in Tesla Inc., worth about $1.8 billion as of March 27, 2016. On March 31, 2016, Tencent announced it would buy stakes in both Snap Inc and Blue Apron Holdings Inc., making it an investor in both companies shortly before their respective IPO (initial public offering).

A Look at the Top 5 AI Unicorns
A Look at the Top 5 AI Unicorns

Tencent also created Pony.ai to develop driverless cars to compete with Waymo

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and invested $1 billion into Mobike which is developing smart bicycles that are more environmentally friendly than conventional bicycles

5) Microsoft

Microsoft is one of the most venerable tech companies in the world, and they’re also one of the top five AI unicorns. They’ve been working on artificial intelligence since the early days of the field, and they continue to be a major player. Their research focuses on natural language processing, computer vision, and machine learning. In addition to their own internal research, they’ve also acquired several AI startups, including SwiftKey and Maluuba. They’re well-known for building products that people actually want to use (Windows 10 and Office 365), so it’s no surprise that they have such a large stake in the future of AI. The list of those who invest in or partner with Microsoft reads like a who’s who list of technology giants: Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and SAP.

With all this investment coming from outside sources and within its walls, there’s no doubt that we’ll see more exciting advances from Microsoft in the coming years.

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