SK Telecom invests $10m in gen AI search engine Perplexity 


The platform aims to be a Google rival, having already received backing from the likes of Nvidia and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos 

South Korean telco SK Telecom has announced today that it will invest $10 million in US-based generative AI search engine start up Perplexity. 

The two companies will collaborate to further develop Perplexity’s GenAI search engine platform, which is attempting to disrupt Google’s hegemony over the industry.  

Founded in 2022, Perplexity AI is an AI-powered search engine that provides direct answers to questions by analysing information from across the internet, rather than just listing websites. It searches the internet in real time, rather than being trained on a fixed dataset (such as Chat GPT), so its answers are more up to date. It currently processes over 230 million search requests each month. 

Perplexity and SK Telecom first signed a strategic cooperation agreement at MWC Barcelona in February. Here, the companies agreed that SKT subscribers could use the paid version of Perplexity for free, and the company could use Perplexity’s models to build personal AI assistant products with access to real-time information.  

SK Telecom will provide Perplexity with Korean-language data and other content to help improve its large language model. 

“Both companies share a vision to provide the best AI services that enrich our lives. We are excited about this partnership and are pleased to have the opportunity to provide Perplexity Pro services to SKT customers,” said Dmitry Shevelenko, Perplexity’s Chief Business Officer. 

“Through this investment cooperation with Perplexity, we have secured global competitiveness in the AI search engine market,” said Lee Jae-shin, SKT’s Vice President of AI Growth Strategy. 

“Based on the close cooperation between the two companies, we will strengthen A.’s search capabilities and plan to launch the highest level AI personal assistant service at home and abroad,” he continued. 

As part of the agreement, Perplexity will also invest in SK Telecom’s Global AI Platform Corporation, which was established last year. 

 SK Telecom has been hugely vocal in the last two years about its goal of becoming a world leader in AI. The company’s Chief Financial Officer Kim Jin Won has said that the company is “stepping up efforts on all fronts to transform itself into an AI company”, including launching numerous initiatives and making various strategic investments in AI startups. 

To this end, last year SK Telecom formed a Global Telco Alliance with e&, Deutsche Telecom, and Singtel to collaborate on the use of AI in the telecoms sector and create new customer and business opportunities. 

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