Baidu COO Lu Qi steps down in latest reshuffle at ‘China’s Google’
Baidu, the operator of China’s largest online search service, said on Friday that its chief operating officer, Lu Qi, will step down to take on a new role, in the latest executive reshuffle at the company as it focuses on artificial intelligence (AI) to drive future growth.
Lu, a former executive at Microsoft who joined Baidu in January last year, will step down from the position in July because of “personal and family reasons”, the Beijing-based internet giant said in a post on its official WeChat account on Friday.
It said Lu will take on the position of vice-chairman at Baidu. He had joined Baidu at a time when it was being repositioned as an AI-first company.
“We have seen many positive changes at Baidu since Qi joined last year,” said company chairman and chief executive Robin Li Yanhong in a statement on Friday.
The company’s senior management team will report to Li directly after Lu moves to his new role. Company vice-president Wang Haifeng will be promoted to senior vice-president to oversee Baidu’s AI projects, according to the company.
Those will mark the latest high-profile executive reshuffles at Baidu. In March last year, Andrew Ng, who served as the chief scientist at Baidu, left after three years on the job leading the online search provider’s AI research.
Lu’s move has come at a critical time for Baidu, which had been tasked by the Chinese government last year to spearhead the development of autonomous driving in the country.
The share price of Nasdaq-traded Baidu dropped 6.61 per cent before trading on Friday.