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Baidu Names Former Microsoft Exec as COO in Artificial Intelligence Push

January 17, 2017

Key Speakers At The Microsoft Corp. Build Developers 2016 ConferenceKey Speakers At The Microsoft Corp. Build Developers 2016 Conference
New Baidu COO Qi Lu.Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

China’s Baidu said it has appointed a former Microsoft executive as chief operating officer, part of a push into artificial intelligence as earnings from its core search engine business wane.

Baidu has been refocusing its business strategy after the introduction of new advertising regulations, aimed at medical advertising in particular, led to a 16% drop in ad customers during quarter ended in September.

Qi Lu, who was an executive vice president at Microsoft (MSFT) and headed its unit in charge of Office, Bing and Skype until last September, will help develop artificial intelligence as a key strategic focus for Baidu over the next decade.

“Dr. Lu possesses a wealth of leadership and management experience, and is a leading authority in the area of artificial intelligence,” Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li in a statement.

 

The company launched a $200 million fund in October to focus on artificial intelligence, augmented reality and deep learning, followed by a $3 billion fund announced in September to target mid and late stage start-ups.

In 2014 Baidu (BIDU) appointed another former Microsoft executive, Zhang Ya-Qin, as president, overseeing emerging business. Zhang will report directly to Lu under the new arrangement.

Baidu, which is expected to report full-year earnings next month, has forecast a 4.6% dip in revenue in the quarter ending in December.