WeChat maker Tencent opens AI lab in US

By Steven Millward for Tech in Asia

Tencent, China’s US$300 billion tech giant and maker of the popular messaging app WeChat, today confirmed it has opened a lab in Seattle devoted to AI tech. The social media and gaming company also confirmed it has poached Dong Yu, a former principal researcher at Microsoft Research, to head its AI lab.

He previously worked for 19 years in various roles at Microsoft.

Dong, a voice recognition and deep learning technology expert, indicates on his LinkedIn that he took up the new post in March.

Dong Yu. Photo credit: Tencent.

The Seattle facility complements Tencent’s first AI lab in its hometown, Shenzhen, which opened last year.

Tencent’s Seattle move comes amidst a wave of Chinese tech companies turning to US labs and expertise to boost their AI know-how, from search engine Baidu to ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing.