Careers at Baidu
Baidu is an internet services and Chinese-language web search company. It offers a range of services, including search, cloud storage and mobile mapping services.
Baidu was founded in 2000 by Robin Li (“Li”) and Eric Xu (“Xu”). Li was an engineer working at InfoSeek, a search company owned by Disney. He believed that search technology was undervalued by the company’s owners, who were more focused on generating content. When Disney increased its holding in InfoSeek in 1999, Li decided to leave the company and set up his own search business. He brought his friend Xu on board, a biochemist with good contacts in Silicon Valley, and established Baidu from a hotel room in Beijing using $1.2 million in seed capital from venture capital firms Integrity Partners and Peninsula Capital. The name Baidu refers to an ancient Chinese poem, the literal translation being ‘hundreds of times’ referring to persistence in the search for perfection.
Baidu received additional funding later in 2000, raising a $10 million and bringing on board two additional investors in the form of Draper Fisher Jurvetson and IDG Technology Venture. The Company raised a further $100 million in 2004 with investment from China Value, China Equity and Google, among others. Baidu began operations by providing search services to other Chinese portals before developing its own stand-alone search engine, despite some opposition from board members. In 2005 the Company went public, listing on the NASDAQ, and in 2007 became the first Chinese company to be included in the NASDAQ-100 Index.
Baidu has continued to expand its product offerings and functionality, opened offices across Asia, North America and Latin America, and has established itself as the market leader in China’s search technology sector. The Company has a market capitalisation of just over $64 billion.
Business model of Baidu
Baidu provides a range of search platforms tailored specifically to the Chinese-speaking population. It operates the most popular search service in China, which accounts for almost 88% of the site’s web traffic, followed by the US with 4.63%. Globally, however, Baidu accounted for less than 1% of the web search market in 2015.
Within the Chinese-speaking community Baidu serves general consumers and internet users, as well as more niche segments with its law and legal and regulatory database Baidu Legal Search, financial portal Baidu-Hexun Finance, and patent and trademark database Baidu Patent Search.
In addition to serving general consumers, Baidu also provides marketing and advertising services to brand marketers and advertising agencies.
Baidu’s greatest value is that it provides a full suite of web search services that are tailored specifically to serve a Chinese-speaking audience. The Company has a variety of portals and services that enable users to integrate their accounts across multiple channels. These channels are all available from anywhere via mobile and web browsers and the Company’s range of mobile apps.
Baidu provides an extensive set of search tools that cover a broad spectrum of interest and needs, from legal searches to news portals.
As the largest search provider in China, serving more than 663 million monthly active users, Baidu also provides a large audience for brand marketers and advertising agencies to expand their marketing reach and interact with their target audiences.
Baidu operates an online portal hosted at www.baidu.com. The Company also operates a series of proprietary websites for its other services, including www.news.baidu.com, www.hao123.com and www.nuomi.com.
Baidu also operates its own app store, through which customers can download Baidu and third-party apps. Baidu functionality is also integrated into a range of affiliate websites and technology products.
Baidu offers a range of self-service products. Users can access the Company’s main web portal, as well as many of its other services, without registering an account or interacting with members of the Baidu team.
Advertising customers can enquire about paid search and display advertising campaigns by contacting Baidu directly, either over the phone or via email, and receive personalised service and a custom quote that fits their individual needs.
The Company provides support to its customers through user guides and FAQs, and interacts with customers through its social media accounts, including on Facebook, Twitter and China’s Sina Weibo.
Baidu is a Chinese technology and web search company. It provides a range of Chinese-language search products organised around its main web portal hosted at www.baidu.com.
In addition to its flagship search engine, the Company offers Baidu PostBar, world’s largest Chinese-language query-based searchable online community platform; Baidu Knows, the world’s largest Chinese-language interactive knowledge-sharing platform; and Baidu Encyclopedia, the world’s largest user-generated Chinese-language encyclopedia.
The Company generates revenue through digital advertising and marketing solutions provided to brand marketers and advertising agencies through its own websites and its affiliate companies. Baidu also operates a network of technology, integration and affiliate marketing partners.
Baidu collaborates with a network of technology partners, integration partners and affiliate marketers. The Company has tie-ups with high-profile multinational companies including Amazon, with which it has partnered to power the Amazon Kindle Fire in China, and Microsoft, with which it has collaborated in promoting Windows 10 software to Chinese consumers.
Baidu has also partnered with web performance and security company CloudFlare, web discovery platform Taboola and performance marketing agency Merkle, and has teamed up with BMW to develop driverless cars in China.
Additionally, Baidu operates a network of affiliate partners, which drive traffic to Baidu by integrating search boxes into their own websites or by displaying contextual promotional links for Baidu customers.
Baidu’s key resources are its online platform and proprietary technologies, its IT infrastructure and its personnel. Baidu has several patent applications filed in its name with the US Patent and Trademark Office through subsidiary companies Beijing Baidu Netcom Science and Technology and Baidu Online Network Technology.
This includes applications entitled ‘Method and system for pushing point of interest information’, ‘Method and apparatus for monitoring state of online application’ and ‘Display screen with graphical user interface’.
Baidu incurs costs in relation to research and development, IT infrastructure maintenance, marketing and traffic acquisition, retention of personnel and bandwidth.
The Company accrues human costs through its workforce of more than 43,000 employees and operational costs, including rental and utilities, in relation to its offices across China, Japan, USA, Thailand, Brazil, Egypt and Indonesia.
Baidu generates the vast majority of its revenue – more than 98% of total annual revenue in 2014 – through the provision of online display advertising and digital marketing solutions across its own proprietary websites and its network of affiliates.
The Company operates a pay-for performance advertising platform which functions effectively as a web-based auction system, allowing customers to bid for priority placement of advertisement links in relation to key word searches made by Baidu users. The Company uses a Comprehensive Rank Index that gives priority placement to links based on bid prices and a link’s quality score, which is determined by calculating the relevance of the link against a user’s search query. Fees are only applied on a pay-per-click basis.
Customers can also be charged based on the number of telephone calls directed to the customer as a result of their advertisements. Additionally, Baidu offers paid search services, where a customer’s link will be placed at the top of a search using selected search terms.
A recent investigation into Baidu’s medical advertising practices was launched after a 21-year old cancer-sufferer accused the Company of promoting false information on its search engine. The student died after a treatment identified through the search engine failed. The investigation is expected to affect Baidu’s advertising revenue, 20% to 15% of which is reported to come from medical advertising.
In response the Company has announced that it will switch its focus from a search-oriented business model to one based on artificial intelligence.
info: Robin has served as Baidu’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since co-founding the Company in 2000. Li began his career as a senior consultant at Dow Jones after graduating from the University of New York in 1994 with a master’s degree in Computer Science. At Dow Jones he was responsible for designing a real-time financial information system to be used by the Wall Street Journal. In 1999 he received a patent for a system of hyperlink analysis, which has formed part of Baidu’s foundation, shortly before joining search technology company InfoSeek as a senior engineer. In addition to his master’s degree, Li also holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Management from Peking University.
info: Jennifer joined Baidu in 2008 as its Chief Financial Officer. She also sits on the board of directors at Philip Morris International. Prior to joining Baidu Jennifer Li was a long-serving employee of General Motors Group. She first joined the company in 1994, serving in various financial roles across Canada, the US and Singapore. In 2001 she joined General Motors China, overseeing the financial operations of the company’s operations in China as the Country Chief Financial Officer. Her last role within the General Motors Group was as Controller of General Motors Acceptance Corporation’s North American Operations from 2005 to 2008. Jennifer Li holds an MBA from the University of British Columbia and a bachelor’s degree from Tsinghua University in China.
info: Ya-Qin has served as Baidu’s President, in charge of marketing and emerging businesses, since 2014. Zhang also sits on the board of directors of holding companies Tarena International and ChinaCache International Holdings. Zhang previously served as a director of the Multimedia Technology Laboratory at research and development company Sarnoff Corp. In 1999 he joined Microsoft where he served as Corporate Vice President and Chairman of Microsoft Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group for ten years. Zhang holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Science and Technology of China, and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from George Washington University.
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