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CIO Workshop 2012: Baidu and the World

F.Y. Teng | Aug. 1, 2012
John Gu, CIO of the Chinese-speaking world's top search engine, on the fast-changing Internet business.

John Gu, CIO, Baidu

On the second leg of this year's CIO Workshop organised by the professional body IT Management Association of Singapore (ITMA) and global management consulting firm Accenture, held in Shanghai (July 19-21, 2012), the CIO of Baidu-known for running the most popular search engine in the Chinese-speaking world-John Gu talked about how his company was going about "Transforming the Future with the Internet." Of course, the 12-year-old Beijing-based company styles itself as an all round Web services provider, and has a more comprehensive set of offerings for consumers and businesses, among them multimedia content, and the low-cost smartphone Changhong H5018 that runs the Baidu Yi operating system. Gu shared with the delegates at the CIO Workshop key details of Baidu's plans moving forward, and the major role that Cloud computing plays in its business at present and in future.

Gu started with a brief introduction of Baidu, the company including: how its name (百度) was inspired by a classical poem (Green Jade Table in the Lantern Festival by Xin Qiji in the period of the Song Dynasty, wherein the last line goes, "Having searched thousands of times in the crowd, suddenly turning back, she is there in the dimmest candlelight."); how Baidu is the number one search engine in China, with 87 percent market share in terms of search queries; and, how by the end of this year it expects to have more than 500 million search engine users.

He offered up Baidu's vital statistics: it had about 16,000 employees; its revenue growth for financial year 2011 came up to about US$2.3 billion, having registered up to 83 revenue growth in the final quarter; aside from its 87 market share of search queries in Chinese, it also has 30.5 percent of total online ad spend in China; it is currently the world's fourth largest Internet company in terms of market capitalisation with about US$50 billion; and, it is not only the first Chinese company to enter the NASDAQ 100, but its stock has multiplied by a factor of 53 since its IPO in 2005. As to Baidu's aspirations today, it aims to become one of the largest media companies in the world, and have half of the world's population using its services, Gu said.

Gu then delved into his understanding of the Web and its evolution since the 1990s, and how it all plays into Baidu's strategy for growth and development in the immediate to long term. Web 1.0, which he dated as having come about in 1990s, was about searching for and viewing information, and saw the rise and domination of the likes of Netscape, Yahoo, Google and eBay. Web 2.0 in the 2000s, he said, was about social networks, blogs, wikis and video sharing, and saw the domination of the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And Web 3.0, in our current decade, he believes, will be about the Intelligent Web, Natural Language Search, Data Mining and Machine Learning.


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