Quick Take: U.S. Tech Veteran Kicks Off Y Combinator’s China Business
A former Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. executive, whose last position was with Chinese internet giant Baidu Inc., has joined U.S. seed accelerator Y Combinator in China for its first overseas expansion.
Lu Qi, who left his position as Baidu’s president and chief operating officer in July, has become CEO of Y Combinator China, Lu announced on Wednesday. Lu will also serve as the head of Y Combinator’s global research institute.
Lu said at a press conference on Wednesday that the China unit’s main plan is to build a team from its current single employee and raise yuan-denominated funds, though he did not specific a target amount. Y Combinator China might also raise U.S. dollars, depending on the needs of the entrepreneurs.
He said that the position can make the best use of his Chinese roots and U.S. connections. At the same time, it allows him to travel between the two countries where his relatives are scattered. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) with a Ph.D. in computer science, Lu spent 11 years at Yahoo and another seven at Microsoft in the U.S. He joined Baidu in 2016, in what was seen as a sign that the search giant was pushing forward with its shift to artificial intelligence (AI). However, Lu announced his departure barely 18 months later.
Lu’s career path resembles that of Lee Kai-Fu, a CMU computer science Ph.D. who is a tech company executive-turned-venture capitalist. Lee worked at Apple Inc., Silicon Graphics Inc. and Microsoft before heading to Google Inc.’s China business. In 2009, he established Beijing-based Sinovation Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm that has funded many promising Chinese AI startups.
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