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Based on the closing price of the day, Baidu founder and CEO Li Yanhong is worth more than 900 million US dollars and quickly entered the top 10 in the list of the richest people in mainland China.
This year, Li Yanhong was 37 years old and became one of the most sought after Internet stars. And for a long time after that, Baidu led by him was also recognized as the Chinese Internet giant and benchmark.
At that time, people could not foresee that when Baidu went to the eleventh year of listing, the "Weize Zexi incident" triggered an unprecedented word of mouth crisis, and the company's business model, values, and future development were constantly questioned and challenged. In 2019, Baidu suffered the first loss after listing.
Today, the 14th anniversary of Baidu’s listing, the market value of the Internet giant has reached $37.7 billion, but it is less than one-tenth of Ali and Tencent. The 51-year-old Li Yanhong can also lead this company that once ranked first in the market value of China's Internet, and the Jedi is alive?
Hidden dangers under the prosperous age
In October 2015, in the tenth year of Baidu's listing, Li Yanhong was invited to participate in the CCTV program "Opening a talk." In this speech, he talked about studying in the United States in his early years. When he applied for a professor assistant, he was asked by the other side to ask if you have a computer in China. This incident made him feel humiliated and inspired him for the future. dream.
At that time, 47-year-old Li Yanhong was very enthusiastic. He compared this memory with the "Celebration of Baidu's listing for ten years" in the US Times Square, and stressed that you don't have to be afraid of setbacks and rejections. "You will stick to it, don't follow suit, Do not waver until it is successful."
Until then, he was still a gentle Baidu head, and he was kind to Robin Li. After the speech ended, some netizens said that Li Yanhong and Yu Minhong and Ma Yun and other entrepreneurs think that Li Yanhong, who has both Peking University graduates and returnees, has lost some bitterness and more calmness. "It’s true that every move makes people Very comfortable".
Li Yanhong is in the "Opening"
Li Yanhong’s elite image has been going on for more than a decade.
Since the founding of Baidu, Li Yanhong’s excellent achievements during his student years, the “super-chain analysis technology” developed at Wall Street in the United States, and his entrepreneurial experience after returning to the country have always been talked about. Not only that, but many executives inside Baidu often pay attention to the elite image of focus and obsessive technology.
For example, "Ideas Yu Jun." Yu Jun is a chemical professional, but he is extremely fascinated by search engines. Because he has no access to the door, he used the "search engine 9238" as the net name in the Sina forum, and wrote many insights and analysis, which was led by Bai Zhan product marketing director Wang Zhan. See and invite them to join Baidu.
After joining the ranks, Yu Jun is more interested in work, and his "every year sleeping sofa" image is also widely circulated. Soon, Yu Jun’s achievements were recognized and became recognized as a master in the search field. At this time, Yu Jun put forward a far-reaching idea: if people with common interests gather together and communicate with each other, they can contribute more information that is not available on the webpage - "Baidu Post Bar" was born.
This was once Baidu's most watched product, and Yu Jun was once regarded as one of China's most cattle product managers, and was the same as Tencent's "father of WeChat" Zhang Xiaolong.
In the first decade after the listing, the company experienced everything from the stars to the giants. However, in the future, people will find that the hidden dangers of Baidu’s crisis in the future are hidden under this glory.
One is the foundation of Baidu. In 2001, when the Internet industry bubble came to the fore, Baidu, which is engaged in enterprise search, faced a huge operational dilemma. Li Yanhong decided to lead Baidu to personal search transformation and launched “bidding ranking”.
Some media reports said that many directors and executives at that time opposed the "bidding ranking". In the face of this situation, Li Yanhong of the elegant style was violently angry.Mobile phoneDropped on the table, saying that if it is not implemented, it would rather "turn the company down." In the end, under his power, Baidu’s bidding price was on the market, saving the company’s current business situation.
Another detail happened in 2010. At that time, Google announced its withdrawal from China, and Baidu’s revenue increased significantly. The profit for the year was a year-on-year increase of 137% to 3.5 billion yuan.
This winter, Li Yanhong met with Facebook founder Zuckerberg in San Francisco to discuss the establishment of a joint venture between Baidu and Facebook. At the time, Zuckerberg emphasized the importance of "information flow". However, this did not attract Li Yanhong's attention.
Go down the altar
For Li Yanhong, it is only one year from the "0 bad review elite" to the public.
The problem broke out in May 2016. At that time, the Wei Zexi incident broke out, and the overwhelming accusations flocked to Baidu. At the same time, it also led to the "three rules of search engines" set by Li Yanhong when he launched the "bidding ranking" many years ago: the first is relevance and the second is popularity. Quality, the third is "the law of self-confidence," meaning "who is more confident in his website, willing to pay more, who is ahead."
In fact, earlier, the hidden dangers of "bidding rankings" have also erupted in a small area. In 2008, in the Sanlu milk powder incident, a public relations company suggested that Sanlu milk powder cost 3 million yuan to buy Baidu services to control negative news. After the proposal was exposed, countless accusations pointed to Baidu's “bidding ranking”.
However, two successive public opinion crises did not prompt Li Yanhong to cancel the "bidding ranking." All measures against public opinion crisis have only solved the immediate problem: 8 years ago, Baidu's treatment method was to adjust the sales model and expel the relevant responsible personnel; in 2016, Li Yanhong chose to remove all military and police system medical advertisements and promote commercial promotion. The proportion of information is controlled within 30%, and the intensity of the labeling of “commercial promotion” is strengthened.
Although Li Yanhong’s open letter in the Wei Zexi incident acknowledged that the company’s interest in profits has caused the company to “fall away from the user”, however, in an interview with Caijing, Li Yanhong still said that for users, search results Whether commercial promotion is not important, the important thing is whether this result meets his needs. "With this philosophy, we have not distinguished the promotion results from the natural search results."
It is difficult to judge whether Li Yanhong is obsessed with the bidding ranking, whether it is an over-recognition of this model in terms of philosophy, or the helplessness of interest.
In fact, for a long time, within Baidu, the power of sales and commercialization is evenly matched with the power of representing users and products. In the first decade of the 21st century, Baidu has successively produced products such as post bars, encyclopedias, spaces, and e-commerce "have" and communication tools "Baidu HI"; however, since 2009, due to "products" Yu Jun Senior executives such as Bianjiang have resigned, and their strength has gradually tended to be “sales”. Profit revenue has become the core concept of the company. Under such a concept, from top to bottom, the reason why Baidu always pursues the bidding ranking is self-evident.
Sales orientation has brought financial highlights to Baidu. In March 2011, Baidu handed over a copy.beautifulThe annual financial report, when the company's market value reached 46 billion US dollars, surpassing Tencent, became the highest Internet company in China at that time.
It may be envisaged that if the pattern of the times remains the same, with the bidding ranking and strong sales power, Baidu will maintain this glory for quite a long time. Only with the advent of the mobile Internet era, the market structure has once again been reshaped.
Although Li Yanhong did not ignore this trend, but as he did not pay attention to the importance of Zuckerberg’s “information flow” in 2010, he was too obsessed with search, making him unable to form an accurate understanding of the new era. . At the critical moment when the industry turned from PC to mobile, Baidu proposed to vigorously develop "mobile phone Baidu" with search as the core, hoping to monopolize the "flow entry" of mobile phones.
The misjudgment of the trend and the lack of product power made Baidu unable to launch star products after entering the era of mobile Internet. The 91 wireless and PPS videos invested in the products were also fruitless.
Until the Wei Zexi incident broke out, Baidu was exploding in various issues such as products, models, and values. Overnight, Baidu’s image collapsed, and Li Yanhong’s perfect elite label was difficult to maintain. Since then, his every move has been mixed with criticism.
Since the founding of Baidu, due to frequent changes in executives, the industry has always circulated the saying that “the Baidu, the executives of the waters”.
Li Yanhong once revealed in the program that 2008 was his most difficult year due to the departure of CTO Liu Jianguo and the accidental death of CFO Wang Zhansheng.
However, at that time, Li Yanhong may not have foreseen it. Since then, Baidu’s “Seven Musketeers”, except Li Yanhong and the recent return of Cui Wei, have left the rest. Executives such as Yu Jun, Li Mingyuan, Xiang Hailong, and Lu Qi, who had had a great influence on Baidu, also left.
The rotation of a group of executives often also means a change in the style of the company.
In the public opinion crisis of 2016, many people missed Baidu when Liu Jianguo and Yu Jun were in office. To some extent, that represents Baidu's product power era. Yu Jun not only brought a post to Baidu, but also left the famous "PM12". Among them, several praises include: Deciding not to do anything is often more important than deciding what to do; users are hard to beeducationTo cater to the user, not to change the user; anything that is useless is a harm to the user.
Liu Jianguo and Yu Jun left Baidu in 2008 and 2009. No one disclosed the specific reasons. After Yu Jun left, some even commented that Li Yanhong “has lost half of Baidu”.
Since then, as Baidu has tended to sell resources, employees in the market and sales system have been promoted faster, and Hailong has gradually surfaced. In the third year after joining Baidu, Hailong was appointed as the general manager of Baidu Beijing Branch. After three months, he was promoted to vice president of sales of Baidu. In the following years, he was promoted to Baidu Senior Vice President and CEO of Baidu Search Company.
Baidu former senior vice president Xiang Hailong Tuyuan Network
After the Wei Zexi incident, Li Yanhong reconsidered that it has not brought real innovative products to users for a long time. Baidu "needs innovation, so everyone's shortcomings to Baidu will be much higher to Baidu."
This sentence implies the arrival of a "new Baidu". Early 2017, beforeMicrosoftLu Qi, the global executive vice president, joined Baidu and soon announced that “Baidu will be All in AI” and began a drastic reform. It is regrettable that, about a year later, with Lu Qi’s reform of Baidu’s reform into the “deep water zone”, due to the interests of many parties, the situation gradually became stale. When Lu Qi joined Baidu for six quarters, he suddenly announced his departure.
After Lu Qi joined, Xiang Hailong had reported directly to Li Yanhong and changed to report to Lu Qi. The dispute between Bai and the two of Baidu’s two characters was also regarded as Baidu’s “old search” and “new AI”. Fight.
The departure of Lu Qi does not mean that Baidu’s determination of the AI strategy has changed dramatically. In the changing times, search is unable to continue to bear the burden of revenue growth. In the first quarter of 2019, the operating profit of Baidu Core (a combination of search services and transaction services) decreased by 81% year-on-year, with a net loss of 3.27. Billion yuan, this is the first time since Baidu went public. In announcing this financial data, Li Yanhong announced in his internal letter that he resigned from Hailong and the search company was transformed into a mobile eco-business group. The former Baidu Vice President, Baidu APP& Information Flow Business System Chief Executive Shen Shai took over Be responsible for.
There have been few reports mentioning that, for many years, the frequent resignation of Baidu executives has something to do with Li Yanhong’s own personality and behavior, but now it seems that there is a relationship that cannot be clarified. According to media reports, after the recent separation of executives, Baidu is looking for successors in various positions.
As the head of the company, Li Yanhong once again returned to the original point. Despite the crisis of public opinion and performance pressure, the 51-year-old founder has no longer perfected the image of the elite, but he still has to lead Baidu to continue to open the gap in the direction of AI and information flow for Baidu, and strive to defend. Baidu’s precarious “giant” image.
At the Baidu AI Developers Conference on July 3 this year, when Li Yanhong was accidentally splashed with water, he continued to maintain a gentle and polite image. After a pause, he explained to the audience under the audience, "The road to AI's progress." There will be a variety of imaginary things happening, but our determination to move forward will not change."
Author: Yao Xinlu Editor: Luo Lijuan