Microsoft Is Losing This Key Tech Exec But Gaining a New Unit

Key Speakers At The Microsoft Corp. Build Developers 2016 Conference
Qi Lu, executive vice president of the applications and services group at Microsoft Corp., speaks during a keynote session at the Microsoft Developers Build Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 31, 2016. Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said his company is committed to playing a key role in the emerging market for artificial intelligence-based chat software, one week after the company's first Internet chat bot in the U.S. was so manipulated by users that it had to be pulled down within a day of its introduction. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Qi Lu, a top Microsoft executive and lieutenant to chief executive Satya Nadella, is leaving the software company, in a move first reported by Recode and confirmed to Fortune by Microsoft sources.

The sources also confirmed that Rajesh Jha, a corporate vice president, will assume at least part of Lu’s responsibilities. Lu was most recently executive vice president of Microsoft’s applications and services group,

Lu was injured in a biking accident some time ago and is leaving for related health reasons, according to the report. Lu is a respected technologist who spent ten years at Yahoo (YHOO) before joining Microsoft (MSFT) in 2008. He also did research stints at IBM’s (IBM) Almaden Lab and at Carnegie Mellon University. At various times at Microsoft, he headed Bing search and other online services.

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That’s not the only big change in Redmond on Wednesday. Microsoft also announced a new Artificial Intelligence and Research Group to be headed by Harry Shum. The group will bring together techies from the existing Cortana, Bing, “ambient computing and robotics,” and information platform teams under one AI umbrella to handle all AI-related product engineering as well as basic and applied research, according to a company post.

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Shum, who has spent 20 years at Microsoft, was formerly executive vice president of technology and research, and now he holds that same title for the new AI group. The move was meant to accelerate what Microsoft calls its plan to “democratize AI,” according to Shum’s blog post announcing the change.

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