Outage hits Chinese chatbot of tech unicorn Moonshot AI amid surging user interest

Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) start-up Moonshot AI had an outage that lasted for at least two days, as enthusiastic users rushed to get a taste of the Kimi chatbot, its answer to OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

The Beijing-based company said it first observed an “abnormal continuous increase in system traffic” on Kimi at 9.30am on Wednesday, according to a company notice to its developers cited by local media.

The notice reportedly said that clients who used the company’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform started to run into system errors at 10am, as traffic rose much faster than what the system is designed to support.

“We’re deeply sorry for this,” Moonshot AI said in the notice.


How does China’s AI stack up against ChatGPT?

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Moonshot AI did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

The service breakdown began on the same day the company announced a technological breakthrough for its Kimi chatbot, which can now process up to 2 million Chinese characters during conversations, up from 200,000 characters previously.

Moonshot AI said the upgrade can expand the chatbot’s uses, from understanding and analysing a full repository of code to automating multi-step tasks, making Kimi a handier tool for users.

Many users said they were still experiencing issues with Kimi on Thursday, according to local media reports. A company representative said Kimi had been adding new users rapidly, and Moonshot AI engineers are working to expand service capacity.

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As a tech company, Moonshot AI recognises the importance of service stability for clients, it said, adding that it has taken measures to fix the issue, such as prioritising SaaS traffic.

Surging user interest also led to a service breakdown last November of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and application programming interface services, days after the Microsoft-backed US start-up debuted its GPT-4 Turbo model.

Moonshot AI last month raised more than US$1 billion in a funding round that valued the company at about US$2.5 billion, according to separate reports by Chinese tech news outlets 36Kr and LatePost.

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