New president, COO to boost firm's AI push
Search engine giant Baidu Inc has appointed former Microsoft Corp executive Lu Qi its president and chief operating officer, a major push to help the company gain an edge in its latest profit driver - artificial intelligence.
The appointment of the software industry veteran, who was among the few Chinese to hold a senior position in a leading US tech company, also suggested that Chinese tech giants are becoming increasingly attractive to top-notch talent with an international background, an analyst said.
Calling Lu "a leading authority in the area of AI", Baidu Chairman Robin Li said the firm will continue to attract the best global talent as it strives to achieve its goal of becoming the global leader in AI.
Lu will oversee all of Baidu's business units from products, technology to sales and marketing, and report to Li, the company said on Tuesday.
"Lu is likely to attract a number of like-minded talent globally to join the company, which will assist Baidu's further growth," said Zhang Mengmeng, an analyst at Counterpoint Technology Market Research.
Born in Shanghai, Lu holds a PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University and has more than 40 US patents to his name. He most recently ran Microsoft's applications and services business following an 11-year stint with Yahoo.
Chinese tech companies are becoming a major draw for high-caliber international talent. For example, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd appointed Michael Evans, a former top Goldman Sachs Group Inc executive, president to fulfill its international expansion strategy.
Lu will lend his expertise to the company's AI push, including self-driving cars, after the company launched an augmented reality lab in Beijing in January.
In addition to Lu, Baidu had hired Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng, who specializes in AI, as its chief scientist. It also beefed up its AI talent by building a research center in Silicon Valley.
The search engine provider is looking for new sources of income, after a scandal involving online medical advertisement last year hampered its ad business. Third quarter revenue from online commercials slumped 6.7 percent year-on-year, the first-ever drop since its Nasdaq listing in 2005.