Zhang Tong, head of one of Tencent’s key artificial intelligence (AI) units, has quit, potentially dealing a blow to the company’s research ambitions.

The AI veteran will return to academia, a Tencent spokesperson confirmed to TechNode. The company did not specify where he is heading nor who replace him.

Zhang joined Tencent’s AI Lab in February 2017, leading over 250 fellows and engineers focusing on fundamental research in artificial intelligence. Its main research fields include computer vision, voice recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning. According to company executives, the lab functions without KPIs.

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Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen