Y Combinator to set up China arm with ex-Baidu COO Qi Lu as CEO

Qi Lu speaks during a keynote session at the Microsoft Developers Build Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S. on March 31, 2016.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Qi Lu speaks during a keynote session at the Microsoft Developers Build Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S. on March 31, 2016.

American start-up incubator Y Combinator is actually setting up shop in China, using a fresh unit to be led by former Baidu chief operating officer Qi Lu.

Sam Altman, Y Combinator’s president, said in a company announcement Wednesday which China had been “an important missing piece of our puzzle” when the item came to sourcing fresh start-ups to take under its wing.

“We think which a significant percentage of the largest technology companies which are founded from the next decade — companies at the scale of Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, in addition to also Facebook — will be based from the U.S. in addition to also China,” Altman said.

“YC’s greatest strength is actually our founder community in addition to also with the launch of YC China we believe we have a special opportunity to include many more Chinese founders in our global community.”

The accelerator, set up in 2005, has invested in more than 1,900 start-ups, including notable firms like Dropbox, Airbnb, Reddit, Stripe in addition to also Coinbase.

Y Combinator’s entry into China will mark the latest push by U.S. companies in addition to also investors to invest from the country’s fledgling tech scene, which has given rise to multi-billion dollar start-ups like ride-sharing firm Didi Chuxing, drone maker DJI, Meituan-Dianping-owned bike sharing company Mobike in addition to also AI in addition to also face recognition firm SenseTime.

China’s major tech giants Baidu, Alibaba in addition to also Tencent are themselves major investors in various global start-ups.

As part of the move to China, Lu will also head up Y Combinator’s research team, Altman said. The accelerator also plans to launch a fresh research center in Seattle.

Before his time working with Baidu, known for its well-liked Chinese search engine, Lu served as an executive vice president at Microsoft, leading the division in charge of Office, Bing in addition to also Skype. Lu quit Baidu in May for “personal in addition to also family reasons,” in addition to also said he wished to spend more time from the U.S.

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