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Baidu hires Microsoft’s leading AI face

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Qi Lu Microsoft

China’s Baidu is all set to move into the world of artificial intelligence (AI) with the appointment of former Microsoft executive as chief operating officer. The latest development is aimed to expand the search business of the Beijing-based company.

Qi Lu, who was handling Office, Bing and Skype units at Microsoft until last September, has been appointed as group president and chief operating officer of Baidu to oversee its AI developments.

“With Dr. Lu on board, we are confident that our strategy will be executed smoothly and Baidu will become a world-class technology company and global leader in AI,” said Robin Li, chairman and group CEO, Baidu, in a statement.

AI-focused funds exist to ease development

AI is not a fresh focus for Baidu. In fact, the Chinese giant launched a $200 million fund in October to bolster its AI, augmented reality and deep learning developments. The company also brought a massive $3 billion fund in September to help startups developing new AI technologies and unveiled open source deep learning platform PaddlePaddle.

However, Lu’s appointment would help Baidu achieve its goals and get bigger in the AI-era.

“I am excited to help realise Baidu’s visionary AI strategy. To be part of Baidu’s evolution into a world-class technology company for the AI-era is a tremendous opportunity.”

Lu will lead a team at Baidu that includes another former Microsoft executive, Zhang Ya-Qin. Moreover, Lu’s leadership would bring Baidu in line with Google and Microsoft in the field of AI.