China's Baidu targets artificial intelligence with appointment of former Microsoft executive

Courtney Goldsmith
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The Chinese search engine giant is a major investor in Uber China
The Chinese search engine giant is a major investor in Uber China (Source: Getty)

Chinese search giant Baidu has named a former Microsoft executive as its chief operating officer in an effort to push towards artificial intelligence.

Baidu's core search engine business hasn't been performing well – new advertising regulations caused Baidu to lose 16 per cent of its ad customers in the quarter ending September 2016 – so the company is refocusing its business strategy, Reuters reported.

Qi Lu led the unit for Office, Bing and Skype as executive vice president at Microsoft until last September and will now focus on developing artificial intelligence for Baidu over the next decade.

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"[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 said in a statement.

In October, Baidu launched a $200m (£165m) fund to focus on artificial intelligence, augmented reality and deep learning, followed by a $3bn fund to target mid and late stage startups.

Former Microsoft executive Zhang Ya-Qin was appointed as president in 2014 to oversee emerging business and will report to Lu under the new structure.

After its last results showed a downturn in revenue, Li warned revenue could slip as much as 4.6 per cent in the quarter ending in December. Full-year results will be announced next month.

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