The booming Internet in China
You don’t need us to tell you that China’s Internet space is booming. With the world’s largest Internet user population—731 million as of December 2016—and a long way to go to reach Internet penetration levels of developed countries, China’s Internet industry is growing in both scale and influence. And as more and more Chinese users come online, Baidu continues to innovate to meet their changing needs and diverse tastes. We aim to serve the needs of our users and customers with products and solutions that prioritize the user experience and reflect our corporate culture – simple and reliable.
The origin of Baidu’s name
Our name was inspired by a poem written more than 800 years ago during China's Song Dynasty. The poem compares the search for a retreating beauty amid chaotic glamour with the search for one's dreams while confronted by life's many obstacles. “…Hundreds and thousands of times, for her I searched in chaos / Suddenly, I turned by chance, to where the lights were waning, and there she stood." Baidu, whose literal meaning is “hundreds of times,” represents a persistent search for the ideal.
Baidu was co-founded in 2000 by Internet pioneer Robin Li, creator of visionary search technology Rankdex, a method of hyperlink analysis. He set out to provide the best and most equitable way for people to find what they're looking for and built a company culture predicated on two principles: simplicity and reliability. Over the past 16 years, we have striven to fulfill our mission by listening carefully to our users. In order to provide intelligent, relevant search results for the tens of billions of queries that are entered into our search platform every day, we focus on powering the best technology, optimized for up-to-date local tastes and preferences. Our deep understanding of Chinese language and culture is central to our success in our home market, and this understanding has allowed us to tailor our search technology for our users’ needs.
We also see tremendous opportunity to service users outside China, in markets such as Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand. We are beginning to see our international products gain traction, with 260 million monthly active users in December 2015.
We provide our users with many channels to connect to information and services. In addition to our core web search product, we power several popular community-based products. These include Baidu PostBar, the world’s first and 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. Beyond these marquee products we also offer dozens of popular vertical search-based products, such as Maps, Image Search, Video Search, News Search, and many more. We power these through our cutting-edge technology, continually innovating to enhance these services. Over the past few years, rapid mobile adoption has dramatically altered the Internet landscape and opened up tremendous opportunities. In the mobile era, mobile search, maps and app distribution are large scale, powerful gateways that China’s users rely on to connect and discover. Mobile revenue comprised 60% of our total revenue as of Q1 2016, and mobile search accounted for approximately two-thirds of total search traffic on Baidu. As Baidu grows and evolves in the age of mobile, we are taking mobile search to the next stage by connecting users with both information and services, enabling users to complete closed loop transactions and providing local merchants across multiple industry verticals with an integrated online marketing and transaction services solution.
In addition to serving individual users, we also serve as a media platform for online marketing customers. Our online marketing business model is mainly based on a performance-oriented marketing platform for businesses to cost-effectively reach targeted Internet users. We offer performance-based online marketing services and display advertisements through both organic Baidu websites and our affiliated website partners (Baidu Union). Our affiliated Baidu Union partners direct traffic to us by integrating a Baidu search box into their websites and/or by displaying relevant contextual promotional links for our customers. The majority of our revenue is derived from performance-based online marketing services, whereby our customers pay on a cost per click basis when their paid-link is clicked through by users. Our goal is to give our customers an online marketing platform with a full range of marketing options, an extensive selection of tools for managing their accounts, and data for analyzing and optimizing ROI.