Baidu Acquires Chinese Digital Assistant Startup, Raven Tech

baiduBaidu, the Chinese internet company announced that it is acquiring Raven Tech, a Chinese startup that developed an AI voice assistant platform. Baidu said that, it bought the Startup’s tech, product and 60 members of staff.

Only a month ago Baidu hired a noted AI professional Qi Lu, who worked as the COO and the Group President of Microsoft. Baidu did not give any details about the cost for buying Raven Tech. Raven Tech is an alumni of the Microsoft Venture Accelerator Y Combinator and has raised $18 million from investors like Zhenfund and DCM ventures.

Raven Tech’s voice AI can be called the Chinese version of Siri, the company has failed to take off as it expected to, in the past. The app never even broke the top 700 ranking in the App Store of China, mostly because Siri has support for Mandarin and with the competition from established companies like Xiaomi and even Baidu till now.

Along with the latest acquisition, Baidu said that it has created a business unit to push its Duer digital assistant and related products such as its augmented reality platform.

Cheng Lu, Raven Tech’s CEO, will lead Baidu’s smart home device business and “work with the Duer team on new product development.” Cheng Lu will report into Qi Lu. TechCrunch reported.

Andrew Ng, Coursera founder will be heading Baidu’s AI and machine learning push, who also runs the firm’s California- based research division.