Qi Lu steps down as Baidu COO

Lu transitioned into the COO slot last January after joining Baidu from Microsoft.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor
Image: Baidu

Qi Lu is stepping down as Baidu 's chief operating officer, the search engine giant announced Friday.

In a statement, Lu said he was unable to continue working in China full time because of "personal and family reasons."

"I am highly optimistic on Baidu's future and will continue to support Baidu, while spending more time with my family in the US," he continued. "For my next steps, I plan to work in research and investment areas, to help advance our shared mission to make a complex world simpler through technology."

Lu transitioned into the COO slot last January after joining Baidu from Microsoft, where he served as applications and services group VP. His jump from Microsoft to Baidu was somewhat sudden and unexpected, but seen as a win for Baidu's evolving AI strategy.

Going forward, it looks like Lu will stick around as the vice chair of Baidu's board of directors. However, if Lu's history with Microsoft is any indication, there's at least some degree of uncertainty about his intentions.

Before officially leaving Microsoft, Lu had taken time off work to recover from health conditions caused by a prior injury, and was set to return in an advisory role to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and founder Bill Gates. But Lu never did any personal advising and instead jumped directly to Baidu.

That said, the prepared statements from Lu and Baidu CEO Robin Li paint the departure as amicable and suggest an ongoing relationship in some form or another.

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