The Baidu Group with Cate Cadell

The Baidu Group with Cate Cadell
Cate Cadell, editor in chief from Technode joined us in this episode to discuss the Baidu Group, China’s largest search engine and one of the BAT companies. We also discussed the ongoing story where Baidu is investigated by the Chinese authorities on their medical ads.

Cate Cadell, editor in chief from Technode at Beijing joined us in this episode to discuss the Baidu Group, China’s largest search engine & maps and part of the BAT axis in China. In our conversation, we discussed Baidu from the perspective of the management team & board led by Robin Li, their business structures and current strategies behind Baidu that include their alliances with Facebook & Uber from the West & their heavy investments into O2O services. Last but not least, we discussed the ongoing story where Baidu is investigated by the Chinese authorities on their medical ads.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • The story of Cate Cadell, Editor-in-chief and Writer with Technode & TechCrunch China (@catecadell, LinkedIn)
    • How did she get started in tech reporting? [1:35]
    • What are her areas of coverage in Technode? [2:58]
    • From Mongolia, Myanmar to China, what are the interesting lessons learnt from her journey? [3:31]
  • Baidu (Wikipedia, Investor Relations, Bloomberg) [4:25]
    • Introduction to Baidu: started in 2000 by Robin Li, creator of the visionary search technology Hyperlink Analysis,  listed on NASDAQ with market capitalization to US$64.31B, with over 46K employees worldwide, annual revenue by 2015: 66.4B RMB ~ US$10.2B, probably with > 71% market share of mobile and web search in China based on Alalysys reports (compare to Google – US$477.4B about 8x more)
    • What is the vision and mission of Baidu? [5:27]
      • From their website, “As a technology-based media company, Baidu aims to provide the best and most equitable way for people to find what they’re looking for.”
    • Who are the key executives in the management team of Baidu? [6:26]
      • Jennifer Li, CFO of Baidu
    • Who are on the board of directors on Baidu? 
      • Yang Yuanqing (CEO of Lenovo)
      • Brent Callinicos (CFO, Uber Technologies)
    • What are the key products that drive the business of Baidu? [8:00]
      • Search Products: Web, Image, Video search
      • Social Products: Post Par, Album, Space
      • User Generated Content Knowledge Products: Baike, Wenku
      • Location Based Products and Services: Maps, Travel
      • Music Products: Baidu Music
    • Based on Q1 2016 ops highlights: 663M mobile search monthly active users (MAUs) – 9% YoY growth, Mobile Maps MAUs ~ 321M ~ 19% YoY, GMV for transactional services RMB 16B ~ US$2.5B, Baidu wallet ~ 65M accounts. [9:50]
    • How are Baidu’s revenues split between these products? Which are the products driving Baidu’s growth? [10:40]
    • Unlike Alibaba and Tencent, Baidu has a research lab run by Andrew Ng (co-founder, Coursera & formerly did research with Google X) in Silicon Valley, what is the thinking behind this? [12:32] 
    • Baidu has entered into self driving cars and starting from Silicon Valley, why not do in China first? [14:09]
    • Baidu Takeout Delivery recently raised a funding round with a valuation of US$2.5B, what is the service and how does Baidu manage to grow this new service within their product offerings? [15:53]
    • How does Baidu takeout delivery work for a consumer? [17:20]
    • Baidu is friendlier to US western companies, for example, Facebook and Uber, with their investment in Uber, and also ties with Facebook on selling of ads, how does these friendships translate into business opportunities for Baidu and their western allies? [18:05]
    • Baidu with Facebook and Uber: a new model for Western companies entering China? For example, LinkedIn. [20:15]
    • Of the BAT, is Baidu the weakest among the three given that it does not own Ecommerce and payments like Alibaba with Ant Financials aka Alipay, and social and payments like Tencent with WeChat? [21:20]
      • Baidu went public early with an IPO in 2004, while Alibaba IPO in 2008 at HKSE and then in NYSE at 2014.
    • Topic of the day: Student’s death prompt investigation into Baidu’s medical ads. [24:08] 

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bleongcw) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Aspirus Desk on Indiegogo (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Also check out Ideal Workspace’s new standing desk, Aspirus and sign up for their mailing list. Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack.