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Baidu Acquires This Chinese Digital Startup and Leverages its AI Unit

Baidu is a Chinese search engine and website that allows an individual to obtain information and find what they need. Baidu offers functional online search, portal channels, industry-based vertical search, Tieba community search, mp3 search, and instant messaging services.

Baidu is advancing its impulsion into artificial intelligence after it proclaimed the acquisition of Raven Tech, a Chinese startup that established an AI voice assistant platform. Baidu confirmed it has bought the startup’s tech, product along with the staff of 60.

The contract comes a month after Baidu appointed well-known AI expert Qi Lu, previously with Microsoft, as its COO and Group President. Baidu didn’t disclose how much it is paying for Raven Tech, which is an alumnus of Y Combinator and the Microsoft Venture Accelerator and has raised $18 million from financiers like DCM Ventures and Zhenfund.
Raven Tech’s Flow product was compared to a Chinese version of Siri, but it has unsuccessful to take off. As Tech In Asia pointed out, the app certainly did not broke the top 700 ranking in the App Store in China, whereas Siri itself has support for Mandarin and there are competitors services from more well-known companies like Xiaomi and even Baidu.

Along with the acquisition, Baidu said that it has launched a new business unit to house it’s Duer digital assistant and associated products such as its augmented reality platform. Cheng Lu, Raven Tech’s CEO, will lead Baidu’s smart home device venture and “work with the Duer team on new product development.” Cheng Lu will report into Qi Lu.

Baidu’s AI and machine learning drive is headed by Coursera founder Andrew Ng, who runs the firm’s California-based research division. Last month, Baidu added an augmented reality lab to that base, which also comprises of an institute of deep learning and big data workroom.