Baidu Chief Operating Officer and former Microsoft executive Qi Lu will step down in July, the company said Friday.
Lu, an expert in artificial intelligence, joined Baidu from Microsoft in early 2017. He left Microsoft in 2016 for health reasons after a bicycle accident, according to unnamed sources.
While at Microsoft he ran the applications and services business and previously headed up its search division after joining in 2009. He also spent more than a decade at Yahoo.
At the time, Baidu hired Lu to oversee daily operations. Robin Li, co-founder and chief executive officer at Baidu, said he would like to "express my sincere gratitude to Qi, who took over daily operational management at Baidu in the past year to give me more time to contemplate on the company's strategic course.” He added: "We have seen many positive changes at Baidu since Qi joined last year. I'm especially impressed by Qi's integrity, dedication to work and sharp insights into technologies and businesses."
Li attributed Baidu’s success in moving to an AI-first strategy to Qi, suggesting that the company is now “well positioned to continue the momentum that we have built in the past year."
Lu has more than 40 U.S. patents.
Haifeng Wang will move into the position of senior vice president and general manager of Baidu's AI Group (AIG).
Wang joined Baidu in 2010 and became a vice president in October 2013. Today he oversees the company's AI efforts in machine learning, big data, computer vision, natural language processing, speech technology, knowledge graph, robotics and augmented reality.
From 2014 to 2017, Wang managed Baidu's core search products and previously served as the chief research scientist at Toshiba's R&D Center.