Former Baidu exec named Y Combinator CEO

  • Business
  • Thursday, 16 Aug 2018

SAN FRANCISCO: Former Baidu Inc executive Qi Lu has been named head of Y Combinator China, marking the American startup incubator’s first full-fledged international effort.

Y Combinator, which has seeded companies including Airbnb Inc, Stripe Inc, Reddit and Dropbox Inc, will start its programme in China as soon as next summer.

In the United States, the accelerator selects two batches of companies a year for financing, advice and connections in exchange for a small percentage of equity.

Lu would lead the Chinese programme, which would be called YC China and adopt a similar approach though there may be tweaks to fit the domestic market, said Sam Altman, Y Combinator’s president.

Altman said he first spoke to Lu about running the initiative before he joined Baidu.

The Microsoft Corp veteran was hired in 2017 to accelerate the Chinese search giant’s efforts into everything from autonomous cars to digital assistants.

But he surprised investors in May when he announced he was stepping down because he could no longer work full-time in China for personal reasons.

That departure hammered Baidu’s shares.

At Y Combinator, Lu will split his time between China and the United States.

He’ll spearhead an effort to discover high-growth startups and help them explore the US market.

The organisation will seek to raise funds in Chinese yuan and potentially work with American backers if dollar financing is required, but Lu declined to provide more details.

Down the road, YC China hopes to leverage local founders’ expertise to help US entrepreneurs get into the world’s second largest economy.

“How to help American companies land well in China has been a common struggle,” Lu told reporters during YC China’s launch in Beijing.

“There’s structural reasons, there’s a lot of reasons for these companies having difficulties.” — Bloomberg

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