Ma Jie, the former head of Baidu’s metaverse operation, has left the company due to challenges in generating short-term profits from metaverse-related businesses, as interest in the sector cools. Local media outlet Jiemian, citing multiple sources, reported that Baidu’s reluctance to continue investing in XiRang, seen as China’s first metaverse platform, played a significant role in the unit’s diminished prominence. This also coincided with a waning interest in the metaverse and a surge in artificial intelligence ventures. Baidu introduced XiRang in December 2021, offering users interactive experiences and the ability to explore virtual locations through avatars. The platform also facilitates virtual conferences, accommodating up to 100,000 users simultaneously. During the launch event, Ma projected a six-year timeline for the full rollout of XiRang. [Jiemian, in Chinese]