China’s tech giant Baidu Inc. is again losing artificial intelligence talent. Wu Xuebin, Baidu’s vice president in charge of autonomous driving has resigned, just as the company is accelerating its push into autonomous vehicles.
Wu joined Baidu in September 2016, and was responsible for the company’s autonomous driving unit, managed external partnerships related to Apollo, the firm’s open-source autonomous driving platform, as well as other automotive-related business.
Prior to joining Baidu, Wu served as vice executive president at China’s state-owned automotive firm BAIC Group. He has also worked for General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co and Porsche AG.
After leaving the tech giant, Wu will join the automotive business unit of Baoneng Group, a property and financial services conglomerate controlled by Chinese billionaire Yao Zhenhua.
Last month, Baoneng acquired a 51% stake in Qoros Auto Co., Ltd., a Shenzhen-based automobile manufacturer, for RMB6.6 billion (US$1 billion), becoming a controlling shareholder in the firm. At that time, Baoneng said it will support Qoros Auto’s development in the field of new energy vehicles.
Baidu started its autonomous driving project 2013 and set up an autonomous driving business unit at the end of 2015. Last year, it launched the Apollo platform, which has gathered more than 90 partners so far, including Udacity, Microsoft Corp. and TomTom NV.
However, the firm lost a number of AI experts last year. In March, Wang Jing, formerly a vice president at Baidu and head of the company’s Autonomous Driving Unit, resigned to establish his own start-up JingChi. In the same month, chief scientist and head of Baidu’s AI Group Andrew Ng resigned to peruse what he described as “new challenges”. Later in October, Lin Yuanqing, head of Baidu’s Institution of Deep Learning (IDL), also left.
Many of Baidu’s former AI employees have established their own start-ups, which have raised close to US$300 million in venture capital funding rounds in the past 12 months. Earlier this month, Aibee, an AI solutions provider founded by Lin Yunqing, and Pony.ai, an autonomous driving solutions provider established by Baidu’s former chief architect James Peng, raised RMB165 million (US$25 million) and US$112 million, respectively.