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  • In the year 2000, two Chinese entrepreneurs came together here in Beijing

  • to launch the internet start-up, Baidu.

  • Over time, it would become China's most popular search engine and become one of the nation's tech titans.

  • Now, it's getting into artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.

  • So, how did it become so massive and what's next?

  • Baidu is often referred to as the "Google of China."

  • It commands around 70% of China's internet searches and,

  • given China's massive population, it's among the world's most used search engines.

  • Baidu was co-founded in 2000 by Robin Li, with its first office in a hotel room near Peking University.

  • Baidu's literal meaning is "hundreds of times," which is meant to represent a persistent search for the ideal.

  • In 2005, the company went public in the U.S. on the Nasdaq.

  • It's the employer to around 40,000 people globally.

  • Baidu's headquarters are located here in the nation's capital, Beijing.

  • Not only is it one of China's largest companies, but given the sheer volume of China's population,

  • it's one of the largest internet companies in the world.

  • It comes in at number four on this list ranking the top sites on the web,

  • coming in right behind Google, YouTube and Facebook.

  • Baidu's primary product is its search engine,

  • but it also has platforms like maps, images, videos and news searches.

  • It's launched platforms you've likely never heard of like Baidu Encyclopedia,

  • the world's largest user-generated Chinese-language encyclopedia.

  • And it's a major stakeholder in iQiyi, dubbed the "Netflix of China."

  • That just scratches the surface, though.

  • There are many, many other verticals it has launched or acquired over the years.

  • The majority of Baidu's revenue comes from advertising through its many platforms.

  • It works similarly to Google Adwords, in that it's a pay-per-click platform that lets

  • advertisers have their ads shown against search results, or websites that are a part of Baidu's network.

  • Baidu is among the list of the highest revenue-generating internet companies,

  • bringing in more money than Netflix or eBay.

  • But, like all Chinese internet companies, Baidu is subject to China's strict online censorship.

  • In fact, the government has fined companies, including Baidu,

  • for failing to properly censor content on their platforms.

  • During a government investigation in 2017, Baidu issued an apology saying it would

  • work with authorities to rectify the situation and improve verification efforts on the platform.

  • So what's next?

  • With more than 770 million internet users, China is the world's largest internet population.

  • That's the entire population of the U.S. two times over.

  • And what's more, it only represents slightly more than half of China's total population of 1.4 billion.

  • That means there's still a lot of room to grow as more of China comes online.

  • And since its would-be biggest competitor, Google, is banned in China, Baidu is likely to pick up a large share.

  • But it's not just China where Baidu sees its growth.

  • Baidu's CEO said he thinks eventually Baidu will go into Europe, the U.S. and many other places.

  • More than two years later, that expansion seems more focused on partnerships.

  • Baidu has research facilities for artificial intelligence in Beijing, Seattle and Silicon Valley,

  • where it's working with the likes of Huawei and Qualcomm.

  • And then there's its self-driving vehicle project, in which it's partnering with Microsoft,

  • Intel and Daimler to try and bring autonomous driving worldwide.

  • The project is called Apollo, an open source platform that allows partner companies to tap into it.

  • Baidu has already developed a self-driving bus, and it's starting to manufacture them too.

  • The company says it wants to see them in the streets of many of the nation's cities soon.

  • But, it's not just China. Baidu is also planning to sell to foreign markets as well.

  • Baidu continues to dominate China's search market, but its next test is scaling

  • its artificial intelligence and self-driving technology outside of China.

  • If it can pull that off, it could become a truly global tech company.

In the year 2000, two Chinese entrepreneurs came together here in Beijing

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What is Baidu? | CNBC Explains

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    Liang Chen posted on 2018/09/13
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