Coursera Co-founder Changes Course

Coursera Co-founder Changes Course

May 16, 2014

CHANGING COURSE: Baidu, the Chinese Internet and search giant considered by many as a Google clone, has hired Coursera co-founder, Andrew Ng, to be its Chief Scientist.

"I will be stepping away from my day-to-day responsibilities at Coursera, but will be continuing as Chairman of the Board," he wrote in a post announcing this decision. "With the MOOC movement healthy and growing, I now plan to dedicate more of my time toward AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning."

Founded in 2012, Coursera currently boasts nearly 7.7 million users, over 650 courses and 109 partners. It has raised $85 million.

Ng has an extensive record of AI research and played a key role in the Google Brain team that taught computers to recognize faces of humans and cats. His first MOOC (then offered via Stanford University) was about machine learning.

Now, he'll be leading Baidu's R&D efforts in areas like speech and image recognition, natural language processing and other forms of machine learning and computer intelligence.

Physically, he'll remain in Silicon Valley. The Baidu office where he'll be working is in Sunnyvale, just a stone's throw away from Coursera's Mountain View headquarters. San Jose Mercury News reports that Baidu "plans to invest $300 million to expand the lab, with up to 200 employees." Baidu also has two research labs in Beijing; MIT Technology Review has more details here.

In an email to EdSurge, Coursera's other co-founder (and current President), Daphne Koller, writes:

With the addition of Rick Levin as CEO, joining myself, Lila Ibrahim and other leaders on the executive team, some of Andrew’s day-to-day responsibilities will be very consciously and strategically shifted to focus the leadership team’s priorities. Now Andrew [Ng] will spend less time on day-to-day operations, but will remain deeply involved in company strategy as Chairman of the Board. He will continue to act as a spokesperson and evangelist, support building out the Coursera Teaching & Learning team, and expand efforts in China.
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