Back in September 2016, Qi Lu stepped down from his role as the head of Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group, citing the need to focus on healing after a nasty bike accident.
At the time, it wasn’t clear whether or not his departure from Microsoft was temporary. Now, four months later, we have our answer, as Reuters reports that Lu has officially moved over to Baidu, China’s leading search engine, as Chief Operating Officer.
While at Microsoft, Lu led R&D for Bing, Office, Skype, MSN, and the company’s advertising products – guiding the company in its considerable investments in artificial intelligence.
Early in Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s reign, Lu lost a power struggle with Windows boss Terry Myerson over the direction of Bing and MSN. Later, Lu reportedly led the push for Microsoft to place an $8 billion bid for Slack, but the company opted instead to launch its own competitor, Microsoft Teams, at Bill Gates’ advice.
In his new role at Baidu, Lu will be leading the company’s own artificial intelligence strategy, which is a big priority for Baidu as it loses digital advertising market share to China’s Alibaba online retail empire.
Microsoft and Baidu are relatively tight. Because Microsoft’s Bing search engine never really took off in China, the region gets a special version of Windows 10 that makes Baidu the default search engine across the entire operating system, expanding an earlier search partnership. And back in 2014, a Microsoft executive was named Baidu president.