Baidu hires Coursera founder Andrew Ng to head research lab

Posted May 17, 2014

Chinese search engine company Baidu has hired Andrew Ng, the co-founder of online education startup Coursera, to work as the chief scientist for a new research center. A research center will be open in in Beijing and Sunnyvale. Baidu will hire 150 to 200 people by the end of 2015 for the labs. Baidu previously created a group in Ng’s deep learning division.

Deep learning is a way to teach machines how to process large amounts of data by setting them up to human neural networks. Machine learning is commonly used for speech recognition, object identification, and recommendation engines.

Ng worked as a deep learning professor at Stanford University and spearheaded the “Google Brain” team, which got 16,000 computers to train themselves to recognize images of cats in videos by making the computers watch a lot of videos on YouTube.

Ng took leave from Stanford and left Google to start Coursera, which is a online course company that has 600 free courses, 7 million registered students, and $85 million in funding.

Coursera recently hired former Yale president Rick Levin as CEO. Ng is now chairman and Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller is now president. Ng will still be heavily involved in the company strategy at Coursera.