August 15, 2018 / 5:19 AM / a month ago

Former Baidu executive Lu to helm Y Combinator's new China unit

BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. startup incubator Y Combinator said it is establishing a China unit, its first dedicated overseas office, which will be headed by Baidu Inc’s former chief operating officer Qi Lu.

FILE PHOTO: Qi Lu, vice chairman, group president and COO of Baidu, responds to a question during a panel discussion on 5G wireless broadband technology during the 2018 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 10, 2018. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo

“China has been an important missing piece of our puzzle -the entrepreneurial energy and talent there is an amazing force. Qi will be able to take what makes YC work and adapt it for China,” Sam Altman, president of YC Group said in a blog post.

Y Combinator has backed companies such as Airbnb Inc, Dropbox Inc and Reddit.

Lu, who oversaw the transformation of Baidu’s artificial intelligence unit, stepped down as COO in July, saying he would return to the United States for family reasons.

In his new role, Lu will also become the head of YC Research, the company’s non-profit research and development project, and YC Research will open a new location in Seattle.

Before joining Baidu, Lu was an executive at Microsoft Corp and headed a unit that was in charge of Office, Bing and Skype among other products.

Y Combinator did not disclose details of its plans for its China arm, but in the United States it runs two three-month funding cycles a year where startups receive intensive support in return for equity.

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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