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Founder of autonomous car startup JingChi steps down amid Baidu suit
Wang Jing, founder and CEO of JingChi, has left his position in the company. JingChi defines itself as a mobility company powered by artificial intelligence. The company is currently being sued by Baidu for RMB 50 million over claims of autonomous driving trade secret theft.
Baidu claims that Wang is using Baidu’s self-driving commercial secrets to compete against them. The company is saying that Wang Jing agreed to a non-compete clause and obliged himself to confidentiality in his contract. Baidu filed its lawsuit in December 2017 at Beijing’s Intellectual Property court.
Local media have speculated that Wang Jing had left the position because of the ongoing lawsuit with Baidu. According to comments from unnamed investors, the Baidu litigation against Wang Jing acts as a warning to those who “rebel” against Baidu. JingChi has confirmed that Wang Jing has stepped down as CEO but claims that the reason behind it is personal.
“The news is true. Wang Jing had a few family matters regarding his father, so he chose to leave. Aside from the CEO change, the company’s other affairs remain unchanged,” the company told Chinese news platform Sina Tech.
Wang Jing was previously posted as the general manager of Baidu’s autonomous driving unit and many of Baidu’s achievements in this field were made during his tenure. Wang Jing left Baidu to start his own company in April 2017, not long after the Baidu’s AI expert Andrew Ng handed in his resignation.
JingChi was founded in the US but in December 2017 the company announced that it will move its headquarters to Guangzhou. The company signed cooperation deals with Guangzhou’s local government for developing autonomous driving. The plan is ambitious: JingChi wants to produce between 500 to 1000 autonomous driving vehicles in 2018. The company also announced that it will construct an AI research center in Guangzhou.
According to China Entrepreneur magazine, co-founder and CTO Tony Han (Han Xu) will take over the post of CEO. Han was the Chief Scientist at Baidu’s Autonomous Driving until he left the company in March 2017. The news has yet to be confirmed by the company.