Adam Coates, a well-known figure in the artificial intelligence community, has departed as director Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab.
Coates marked the departure on his LinkedIn profile. Coates confirmed his departure, but declined to comment further. Baidu declined to comment.
This is the second big loss for the Chinese search giant’s Silicon Valley AI Lab. Andrew Ng, a leader in the hot field of deep learning who founded the company’s AI research effort, announced his departure as chief scientist in March.
Before joining Baidu in 2014, Coates did his post-doctoral research at Stanford University under Ng. Coates appeared on MIT Review’s 2015 list of 35 Innovators Under 35.
With the creation of the Sunnyvale, California-based AI lab in 2014, Baidu had been an early leader among its Chinese tech giant rivals in establishing a major AI research group. Ng joined after having helped create the Google Brain AI research group as well as founding online education startup Coursera, where he taught a popular course on deep learning. Ng eventually oversaw an AI team that grew to more than 1,300 employees. The group was responsible for developing an advanced speech recognition system called Deep Speech. The research unit also spun out two business divisions within Baidu — a software platform for voice-powered devices and autonomous driving technology.
But Baidu’s overall research group AI research group has been undergoing some restructuring. In conjunction with Ng’s departure, Baidu said it would consolidate its AI research units under vice president Haifeng Wang. And a few months before Ng’s departure, Baidu hired AI expert and former Microsoft executive Qi Lu as president and COO to help lead the company’s new AI focus.
Ng has found plenty to do since his departure. Last month, he launched a new online school dedicated to deep learning with a website called Deeplearning.ai. Ng also appears to be raising an AI investment fund of some sort, based on a document filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission showing a war chest of $150 million. He has yet to comment on the SEC filing.
Huge advances in the field of deep learning has left companies scrambling for AI talent. Coates shouldn’t have any trouble finding another position. His LinkedIn profile now reads: “Deep Learning / AI leader searching for the next leap. Stay tuned.”