Baidu shakes further, which is good news for AI startups

On May 18, it was announced that Lu Qi stepped down from daily operations “for personal reasons”.

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Baidu shakes further, which is good news for AI startups

This article was originally published in The Low Down by Momentum Works.

 

When Lu Qi, a well respected senior Microsoft executive, became the COO of Baidu, many expected big changes. A few highlighted that with Lu Qi’s assumption of power, Chief Scientist Andrew Ng, a famous AI pioneer, was ousted.

Andrew Yan-Tak Ng (born 1976) is a HongKongese American computer scientist and entrepreneur. He is one of the most influential minds in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning. Ng founded and led Google Brain and was a former VP & Chief Scientist at Baidu, building the company’s Artificial Intelligence Group into several thousand people. (Source: Wikipedia)

We wrote a while ago on why Baidu is falling behind Alibaba & Tencent. It seems the same forces are still playing: just this afternoon, it was announced that Lu Qi stepped down from daily operations “for personal reasons”.

The fact that Lu Qi thrived at Microsoft but didn’t survive at Baidu probably says a lot about the differences between the two companies’ cultures.

The person replacing Lu Qi is the relatively unknown Haifeng Wang. Last year, it was exactly Wang who took over from Andrew Ng; and Wang previously led a number of key search products at Baidu.

Wang’s ascent probably says as much about his personal power as the importance of search in Baidu’s overall strategy and organization.

For the leading independent AI startups in China and their investors, the ousting of both Andrew and Qi is probably good news. Ultimately, who wants to go against heavyweights such as the duo?