Adam Coates, director of Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab, has left the company. A source confirmed the exit and Coates has updated his LinkedIn reflecting the change. Coates joined the Chinese search giant back in May of 2014 to lead a California-based team of 50 machine learning developers.
Baidu has built up an established proficiency in natural language processing. While at Baidu, Coates publicly evangelized Baidu’s machine learning efforts and worked directly on applying deep learning to core NLP problems like text to speech and speech recognition.
A Stanford educated PhD in computer science, Coates is well known for his work on very large neural networks and efforts to optimize distributed GPU clusters. While at Stanford, Coates was Andrew Ng’s doctoral student. Previously, Ng served as Baidu’s chief scientist, but he left the company back in March.
Since departing, Ng has been investing time and resources into a troika of businesses. Thus far he has announced a new deep learning course. We also reported on a new AI fund filed with the SEC in Ng’s name last month.
Ng’s departure was widely reported given his high-profile role within the company. Baidu has been investing heavily into its Sunnyvale office as a pipeline for acquiring top U.S. machine learning talent. In an interview with Wired last month, Qi Lu, Baidu’s chief operating officer explicitly noted that while China’s AI talent pool is growing rapidly, the U.S. is still the global leader.
Baidu declined to comment when asked about the departure.
We have also reached out to Coates. We will update this post if we hear information on who will be taking the reins at Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab or Coates’ future plans.