Qi Lu, who formerly headed up Microsoft's Applications and Services Group, has signed on to join Chinese search giant Baidu. As TechCrunch reports, Lu will join Baidu as COO, taking responsibility of everything from the firm's products and technology to sales and marketing operations.

Former Microsoft exec Qi Lu takes COO spot at Chinese search giant Baidu

The biggest boon for Baidu, however, will be Lu's expertise in AI — an area where the Chinese search giant has recently started placing its focus. In a statement to TechCrunch, Baidu CEO Robin Li stated:

To achieve our goals, especially in artificial intelligence, which is a key strategic focus for the next decade, we will need to continue attracting the best global talent. With Dr. Lu on board, we are confident that our strategy will be executed smoothly and Baidu will become a world-class technology company and global leader in AI.

Lu had announced plans to step down from his position at Microsoft in September of 2016, citing health issues as a result of a bike accident earlier in the year. As head of Microsoft's Applications and Services Group, Lu was in charge of a swath of products that included Office, Bing, Skype and SharePoint, just to name a few. Prior to joining Microsoft, Lu held positions at both Yahoo and IBM.