Ernie Bot: Baidu’s ChatGPT rival fails to wow investors

Shares of Chinese language search engine behemoth Baidu nosedived on Thursday as traders have been disillusioned by the launch of Ernie Bot, the corporate’s ChatGPT challenger.

Through the launch occasion in Beijing, Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li confirmed off a few of Ernie Bot’s capabilities, which included naming an organization and giving it a slogan, writing a 600-word enterprise e-newsletter, explaining financial concept and writing a poem primarily based on a Chinese language idiom.

Nonetheless, his presentation didn’t embrace a reside demonstration of Ernie Bot, relying as an alternative on pre-recorded materials and slides.

Disillusioned by the extremely anticipated know-how unveiling, traders despatched Baidu’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell as a lot as 10%, ending Thursday’s buying and selling session 6.4% decrease and wiping round $3 billion off of the corporate’s market capitalization.

Yu Yingbo, CIO at Shenzhen Qianhai United Fortune Fund Administration Co., advised Bloomberg that Li’s presentation “appeared pre-recorded, to this point it’s all simply Powerpoints.”

“The demos didn’t look spontaneous,” he mentioned.

A spokesperson for the corporate was not accessible to reply Fortune’s questions concerning the market response to Ernie Bot’s launch.

Decade of analysis—however ‘not good but’

Talking on the unveiling occasion, Baidu CEO Li mentioned many individuals had requested him if the tech large was actually able to launch its ChatGPT competitor—however he famous the agency had been investing within the A.I. analysis resulting in Ernie Bot for a decade.

“At present’s Ernie Bot is near ChatGPT and even ChatGPT-4, and really Baidu is the primary one to launch such a product—others together with Google and Fb haven’t any same-level product,” he insisted.

OpenAI not too long ago unveiled ChatGPT-4, the fourth iteration of its software program, which is being utilized by Morgan Stanley, Stripe and Duolingo in real-world capacities.  

Nonetheless, Li appeared to acknowledge on the occasion that Ernie had a strategy to go—and the presentation was mandatd by the market’s enthusiasm for A.I. bots.

“It’s not good but, so why do we have to launch it at the moment?” he mentioned. “As a result of the market calls for it.”

Main tech companies together with Microsoft and Google have entered into an “A.I. arms race” since OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT grew to become a worldwide phenomenon following its launch towards the top of final yr, with traders intently watching the competitors.

The general public response to ChatGPT prompted a $10 billion funding in OpenAI’s know-how from Microsoft, whereas Google premiered its personal providing, Bard, final month—with the chatbot wiping $100 billion off of guardian firm Alphabet’s market worth after making a mistake in its very first advert. Alibaba and a string of smaller names are additionally ramping up their A.I. efforts.

Again in February, Baidu inventory shot up nearly 15% on the again of stories that it could quickly be launching a ChatGPT rival.

Future optimism

Regardless of the rocky begin, analysts appear to have long-term optimism for the Baidu bot.

In a analysis observe printed earlier than Ernie Bot was unveiled on Thursday, Kai Wang, senior fairness analyst at Morningstar, mentioned he was optimistic the chatbot may very well be a long-term catalyst for Baidu, however famous uncertainties lingered round whether or not the product may dethrone ChatGPT due to a scarcity of product demonstration.

“Baidu plans to include Ernie into nearly each facet in its firm, together with autonomous driving and its sensible speaker Xiaodu, along with primary queries for its search engine,” Wang mentioned. “We’re cautious on whether or not Ernie can match the success of ChatGPT to this point, on condition that we have now not seen real-time use instances regardless of the multifaceted ambitions in its incorporation.”

In the meantime, Charlie Chai, an analyst at 86Research, advised Reuters that though Baidu’s occasion on Thursday was a disappointment for a lot of, he believed Baidu remained the perfect guess when it got here to Chinese language A.I. improvement.

“We proceed to advise traders to patiently maintain shares as the perfect ‘nationwide champion’ play in China’s (semi-segregated) A.I. house,” he advised the information company.