Photo: Reuters/Aly Song

While Baidu has so far made the most headlines for their investments in artificial intelligence research and development, rival Chinese tech giant Tencent is making a push to steal some of their thunder.

TechCrunch reports this week that Tencent has hired Baidu’s Big Data Lab head Tong Zhang to lead a team of 200 product engineers and put AI advances to use for Tencent’s apps and services, including China’s most popular messaging app, Wechat.

The announcement comes after the head of Baidu’s US-based research team departed the company last week.

It looks like Baidu will have to cough up some more of the almost US$3 billion they have spent in less than three years on R&D to keep people on board.