The Rise of Baidu (That’s Chinese for Google) – David Barboza

From The New York Times:

In the summer of 1998 at a picnic in Silicon Valley, Eric Xu, a 34-year-old biochemist, introduced his shy, reserved friend Robin Li to John Wu, then the head of Yahoo’s search engine team.

Mr. Li, 30 at the time, was a frustrated staff engineer at Infoseek, an Internet search engine partly owned by Disney, a company whose fading commitment to Infoseek did not mesh with Mr. Li’s ongoing passion for search. Like Disney, Mr. Wu and Yahoo were also losing interest in the business prospects of search, and Yahoo ” in a colossal corporate blunder ” eventually outsourced all of its search functions to a little startup named Google.

Mr. Xu, who had called together some friends for a documentary he was making on Silicon Valley, thought the two search guys would hit it off. Mr. Wu says he exchanged greetings with Robin Li, but what most impressed him was that despite all of the pessimism surrounding search, Mr. Li remained undaunted.[Full Text]

Chinese Bloggers have opposite opinions on Baidu.

One of the bloggers, Jia Penglei, recently posted a story, Why Baidu is Not Respectable. Jia said Baidu failed to delight the users and the stock holders at the same time, and it’s handling of some negative public affairs also displeased the public. The blogger said:

Baidu has done a bad job dealing with crises such as layoffs. Also Internet users tend to dislike parvenus. In their eyes Baidu is a typical upstart that was already paying too little for the employees who were laid off.

Whether a company can run an enduring business is not merely a problem of property rights. More important, it’s a problem of corporate culture. Baidu did a good job when it beat Yahoo and Google, but it has to face an even more critical challenge: how to make the public like the company. Baidu holds a brilliant image in front of the share holders, but at the end of the day, it has to face itself. Are you really capable of becoming a great company? Do you pay enough attention to the employees and to society?

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