Does Baidu Have a Secret Agenda?
Baidu taps Microsoft expert in AI
Baidu’s (BIDU) move to appoint Qi Lu to the position of COO (chief operations officer) and president is raising eyebrows in some parts. Lu left Microsoft (MSFT) last year, citing health reasons, only to land in an influential executive position at Baidu, a competitor of Microsoft in the Internet search market.
Lu is a noted expert in AI (artificial intelligence) and was leading Microsoft’s strategy in that area of technology. At Baidu, Lu will oversee the company’s business operations that include sales and technology development. By hiring a Microsoft expert in AI, Baidu is showing commitment to evolve its search engine into a powerful web tool capable of taking on giants like Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google.
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Although Google search and social media services owned by Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) are banned in China (FXI) (MCHI), they would give Baidu a run for its money in China’s digital advertising market if Beijing moved to unlock them.
Notably, research firm Tractica estimates worldwide AI revenue will hit $38.8 billion by 2025 from $643.7 million in 2016.
Enhancing Baidu’s search tool
Alphabet, Microsoft, and Facebook are increasingly using AI to enhance the search experience on their platforms as the contest for digital ad spending heats up between traditional search providers and social media companies.
At Google and Facebook, they are also using AI to fight fake news on their platforms, a familiar problem for Baidu. Last year, Baidu launched a massive cleanup to remove fake medical ads to avoid the risk of tainting its reputation.
Diversifying revenue streams
Like Google, Baidu is also developing autonomous vehicle technology, an area where AI is expected to see heavy adoption. With Lu on board, Baidu could speed up the development of AI technologies to improve search performances and diversify revenue streams.Baidu’s (BIDU) move to appoint Qi Lu to the position of COO (chief operations officer) and president is raising eyebrows