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Microsoft’s former head of search got Satya Nadella's blessing before accepting a gig at rival Baidu

Qi Lu stepped down from Microsoft last year, citing health reasons.


China’s Baidu announced it had hired former Microsoft search and Office head Qi Lu, this despite the fact he cited serious health reasons related to a bike accident when he stepped down just four months ago.

Apparently the only one who wasn’t surprised was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Lu told Nadella of his plans three weeks ago, according to a source, essentially getting his blessing.

Microsoft also officially wished Lu well. “We want to thank Dr. Qi Lu for his great contributions to Microsoft during his eight years of service to the company and wish him the best of luck in his next endeavor,” the company said in a statement to Recode.

While Microsoft and Baidu compete in search, they are strong largely in different regions. Baidu is dominant in China, where it has roughly 80 percent market share, while Bing’s strength is concentrated in the U.S. and other Western markets.

Lu’s departure didn’t provoke a repeat of the infamous chair-throwing incident that allegedly occured under Steve Ballmer when a top engineer left for Google in 2004. (For the record, Ballmer has always denied he threw the chair, as has the engineer.)

And as for the health issues, there's no doubt that Lu was in tough shape physically. He had struggled to recover from a bike accident nearly a year ago and continued to have treatment in the four months since he left Microsoft.

But he seems to have landed on his feet, literally and figuratively.

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