China’s Baidu is opening an engineering office in the Seattle region, giving the Beijing-based Internet powerhouse an additional U.S. outpost to expand its reach in artificial intelligence and the cloud.
The new Baidu office in downtown Bellevue, Wash., is starting with a small team that includes the leaders of Kitt.ai, the Seattle-based artificial intelligence startup acquired by Baidu this year. Baidu’s current space has room for as many as 40 people in the first year, depending on how quickly it’s able to recruit top engineers.
Baidu, long known as the leading Chinese-language Internet search engine, has expanded in recent years in areas ranging from financial services to artificial intelligence — seeking breakthroughs in computer vision, speech recognition, deep learning and natural language understanding. Baidu is also making a big move into the public cloud, which will be another major focus for the new office.