After winning 99% of over 400 million Internet users in China, Robin Li, founder of the online search firm Baidu, is taking the first steps to expand its offerings to the world.
Known in the West as the executive ahead of the company that beat out Google in China, Li Baidu led to excellent results in 2010. The value of shares more than doubled since January and now the company is the fifth largest Internet market value in the world, behind rival Google, Amazon.com, also of China and Tencent eBay.
His goal now is to make the company, founded in 2000, is known to half the world population at the end of the next 10 years. Owner of a fortune of 7.2 billion U.S. dollars, Li argues that at least one Chinese Internet company will begin to have an international impact.
To ensure that Baidu will occupy the post, many company's engineers are engaged in translating the site for dozens of languages. But Li also takes advantage of experience in the United States in the late 90's when the co-founder of Baidu, Eric Xu, was stationed as a sales representative for a biotechnology company. Despite the difficulties of operating outside the country with a Chinese brand, Li explores the contacts, the fluency of the English language to explore possible partnerships and their rather modest customer base.
He has confirmed that in talks with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and attend more conferences worldwide.
In the second half of 2010 was at two events in the United States with commercial Internet market and also investors - people with a profile similar to those who gambled in years before her partner Li and Eric Xu, and invested 11.2 million dollars in company in 2000 (Xu joined Baidu in 2004 to found a venture capital fund specializing in biotechnology). Or also with those who tried to buy the company, such as Japanese or American SoftBank representatives from Yahoo, Microsoft or Google.
Given the growth of Baidu, Google is not much left but to start operating in China. But being American is not favored at all the failed company and the services each time the relations between Chinese and American governments were trembling. Trapped in March this year Google decided to go up against the censorship imposed by the Communist Party and stopped to select the search results. Gradually it was closing its operation in the country - a thud in the business, losing significant market opportunities in China.
The controversy has global proportions, but for Baidu, was a gift. "For a long time suggested to them to spend a few months each year in the country to understand the local reality," said the CEO in an Internet convention held recently in the United States. "They did not listen and, yes, they gave me a gift."
From the threat in his country's largest global power industry, the CEO plans to expand business in the areas of electronic commerce, online gaming and electronic payments - also challenging the Chinese Tencent. The old and new services will also be available to users who access the mobile Internet. Some 850 million Chinese have a mobile phone handset at present, but only 150 million have access to network resources (and then via the 2G network). Inside or outside the country, Baidu is ready to grow.
Li, however, is the target of accusations of collusion with the manipulation of search results. The subject returned to the staff earlier this year when the United States made an appeal for freedom of expression on the Internet, citing China as a counterexample. The executive defends himself saying he is an entrepreneur and not a politician. It's up to him, therefore, follow the rules of business.
One way or another, select the search results is guaranteed benefit to Baidu in the country, guided by free way to grow in the wake of the Chinese economy
. To conquer the world, however, can be a problem.