Baidu to speed up promotion of younger talent as 53-year-old president Zhang Yaqin opts for retirement

Sarah Dai
Baidu to speed up promotion of younger talent as 53-year-old president Zhang Yaqin opts for retirement

Baidu said it will promote more employees in their 20s and 30s to management as part of efforts to speed up leadership renewal at the search engine and autonomous driving company.

As part of the plan, Zhang Yaqin, 53, its president of new business, opted for early retirement under a new programme for senior executives.

Formerly a senior executive at Microsoft in Asia, Zhang joined Beijing-based Baidu in 2014, overseeing among other things the restructuring and commercialisation of its cloud and artificial intelligence business in the past two years.

Baidu’s CEO plays down impact of US-China trade war on company

“We will speed up on the rejuvenation in 2019, promoting more of those born in the 1980s and 1990s into management roles,” Robin Li Yanhong, 50, Baidu’s billionaire co-founder and chief executive, said in a memo posted on the company’s official WeChat account.

“After years of dedicated work, he wants to spend more time with family,” Li said about Zhang’s impending retirement. “We understand and respect his choice, and thank him for his hard work in the past, and wish him all the best in life, health and family.”

Zhang said he will devote “Life 3.0” to invest more energy in teaching, research and philanthropy, and spending more time with family.

Baidu will keep offering more opportunities to younger generations that can grow with the company and ensure a mechanism for people to be “all-in” and not to have to worry, it said in the WeChat post.

Baidu beats estimates but slowing economy remains a challenge

Zhang’s retirement follows the departure of other high-profile executives, including that of chief operating officer Lu Qi last year. In 2017, Andrew Ng, who served as chief scientist, left after three years leading its artificial intelligence research.

The reshuffle also comes as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent – collectively known as BAT – enter their third decade since founding and look for ways to keep their edge amid competition from a new wave of rising start-ups.

Last September, Alibaba announced that chief executive Daniel Zhang will be promoted to executive chairman September 10, 2019, taking over from Jack Ma, who will remain a director on the board and a permanent member of the Alibaba Partnership. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

More from South China Morning Post:

This article Baidu to speed up promotion of younger talent as 53-year-old president Zhang Yaqin opts for retirement first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2019.