Baidu on Saturday appointed its chief information officer Li Ying to lead the company’s AI speaker subsidiary, Xiaodu Technology, after the sudden resignation of former chief executive Jing Kun.
Why it matters: As the Vice President of Baidu, Li’s taking over as the top executive of Xiaodu may signify the strengthening of the company’s ERNIE Bot support for various artificial intelligence product lines under Xiaodu, with the tech giant betting big on its subsidiary’s potential for transformation in the AI field.
Details: Officially launched in 2015 as a smart life business group under Baidu, Xiaodu was spun off from the search giant in 2020.
- Xiaodu’s former CEO Jing Kun recently resigned for personal reasons, according to local media outlet Caixin. The report also noted that Jing was originally scheduled to give a speech entitled “The era of large models, Xiaodu reshaping smartliving” at Baidu’s annual event, Baidu World 2023, on Oct. 17.
- His successor, Li Ying, joined Baidu in 2004. The long-term Baidu employee has been involved in various businesses within the company, including natural language processing, complex search, and Baidu Maps, publicly available information shows. Li will report directly to Baidu’s chairman Robin Li.
- Before her new appointment, Li also led the rebuild of Baidu-developed instant messaging software product Infoflow based on the firm’s ChatGPT-like AI model, according to tech outlet 36Kr. The software is capable of performing AI-driven tasks such as meeting summary generation and intelligent coding after integrating Baidu’s ERNIE Bot.
Context: In May, Xiaodu teased its first smartphone, Qinghe, which is intended as a child-focused smartphone and features English-speaking and location tracking functions. Although the independent Baidu subsidiary stated on its official WeChat public account in February that Xiaodu-created devices would integrate all the capabilities of ERNIE Bot, Qinghe ultimately utilized “a large AI model for studying” developed by the company itself.
- In January, Xiaodu completed a Series B+ financing round participated in by the Chinese state-backed enterprise restructuring fund, with the company’s valuation reaching RMB 35.5 billion ($4.9 billion).
- More than 40 million households already use Xiaodu’s products, including speakers, televisions, as well as other smart home appliances, according to the company.