SK Telecom Invests $10M in Perplexity to Enhance AI Search Engine Collaboration


SK Telecom announced an investment of $10 million in the American generative AI search engine startup “Perplexity” and stated that the two companies will strengthen their cooperation in the generative AI search engine business.

Additionally, Perplexity has agreed to invest in SKT’s “Global AI Platform Corporation” (GAP Co.), established last year in Silicon Valley. GAP Co. is responsible for developing SKT’s global AI services and will jointly develop AI search services with Perplexity.

The two companies formed a strategic partnership for AI search engine business cooperation at MWC 2024 in Barcelona this past February. They have now taken a further step by engaging in mutual investment, expected to create sustainable synergies in the AI business. Perplexity, a U.S.-based startup, offers conversational AI search services based on large language models (LLM). It has gained attention as a competitor to Google and has received investments from notable figures and companies, including NVIDIA and Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

Perplexity has established itself as a leading player in the generative AI search industry in the U.S., handling over 230 million search requests globally per month. In May, it secured the top spot in the Wall Street Journal’s AI chatbot usability evaluation, “The Great AI Chatbot Challenge.”

Perplexity will collaborate on enhancing the generative AI-based search engine to be integrated into SKT’s AI personal assistant services, including the ongoing development of the global AI personal assistant “A. (A.Dot).” SKT will provide Korean data and cultural content information, and the two companies will jointly develop LLM fine-tuning and advanced search solutions to improve Korean search performance.

Perplexity’s generative AI search engine is characterized by its short response time and provision of accurate source information. Unlike keyword searches, it enables conversational searches and offers diverse search results, including related quotes, images, and graphs.

Additionally, the search engine provides the sources of its answers, such as news articles, YouTube videos, and blog posts, to prevent the “hallucination” phenomenon, a common issue in generative AI. It also shows lists of follow-up questions to help users explore information in more detail. One of Perplexity’s strengths is its ability to quickly translate and summarize English articles just by entering the link.

SKT expects the integration of the search engine into its “AI Personal Assistant” platform to support a wide range of functions, including conversational queries, search result summaries, related keyword suggestions, and English translation and summarization.

With this investment, SKT became the only domestic telecom company able to offer Perplexity’s services to its customers in Korea. Furthermore, SKT plans to provide its customers with a one-year free subscription to the paid search service “Perplexity Pro.” Joint marketing efforts will also be pursued through various channels, including SKT’s A.Dot, T Universe, and T Membership.

Dmitry Shevelenko, Chief Business Officer (CBO) of Perplexity, said, “Both companies share a vision of providing the best AI services to enrich our lives,” and added, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to offer Perplexity Pro services to SKT customers through this partnership. A partnership with a telecom company, which is at the forefront of customers’ daily lives, will be a key factor in Perplexity’s growth strategy. We hope for a long-term collaboration with SKT as our first global telecom partner.”

Lee Jae-shin, Vice President and Head of AI Growth Strategy at SKT, stated, “This investment cooperation with Perplexity has enabled us to secure global competitiveness in the AI search engine market. Based on the strong cooperation between the two companies, we plan to enhance A.Dot’s search capabilities and launch the highest level of AI personal assistant services domestically and internationally.”

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