According to a recent Geekwire feature, Baidu, the top search engine in the Chinese language, has opened an office the Seattle area as an effort to expand its reach in Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing. Situated in downtown Bellevue, the new office reportedly has space to accommodate upwards of 40 engineers within one year, depending on the rate at which they are able to bring top industry workers to the company. The move comes as Baidu continues to expand beyond the bounds of search, “in areas ranging from financial services to artificial intelligence – seeking breakthroughs in computer vision, speech recognition, deep learning and natural language understanding.”
As Baidu’s president, Ya-Qin Zhang said, “Obviously our core business will continue to be search for many years to come – which is a great business. But we are getting into new fields…the cloud, autonomous driving and all the verticals that are driven by AI.” Zhang said Baidu has approximately 200 Silicon Forest employees, a number the Bellevue office could easily surpass depending on their rate of growth. The motivation for the Pacific Northwest move? Zhang says it was all about the talent, as he cited “the region’s growing status as a magnet and home for leading computer scientists and engineers, particularly in cloud technologies.”
Baidu offers tech workers a unique culture through their use of a technical committee, which evaluates and promotes engineers based on “technical merit and engineering accomplishments” rather than at the discretion of an employee’s manager.
“We’re excited by the announcement that Baidu chose Bellevue to lead the charge in a commitment to AI and cloud computing,” added Dean Jones, President and CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “Our Silicon Forest continues to grow and companies from across the ocean are taking notice and choosing our region for the prevalence of well-equipped tech workers and our convenient position along the Pacific Rim.”
Geekwire points out that Baidu’s move is simply “the latest in a long string of out-of-town companies to establish engineering centers in the Seattle region,” as companies look to leverage up-and-coming talent from the University of Washington and target top tech companies such as Microsoft and Amazon. As Geekwire’s tech company tracker reveals, Baidu joins over 100 engineering centers in the Pacific Northwest; a number that promises to continue to increase in the coming months.