Baidu COO Lu Qi speaks at an AI conference in China last year. Photo: Liu Guanguan/CHINA NEWS SERVICE/VCG via Getty Images

Lu Qi, an AI expert and former Microsoft executive, stepped down as COO of Chinese search company Baidu, Caixin reports (subscription required). Shares in Baidu fell 9.5% after the announcement, the sharpest drop in 3 years.

Why it matters: Lu had been responsible for "Baidu’s transition to becoming an ‘All in AI’ company,” Credit Suisse analyst Thomas Chong wrote in a note cited by Caixin. The market reaction reflects the centrality of AI expertise in the valuation of global big tech companies, often concentrated in a single star scientist at the top.

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