‘Winter is coming’ warns Baidu founder, even as the Chinese giant celebrates a landmark 2018

Robin Li, the Chinese internet giant’s founder, and the chief executive officer called the new revenue record a ‘milestone’.

Baidu has announced its revenue crossed the 100 billion yuan (US$14.6 billion) mark in 2018, beating the 85b yuan figure it recorded in 2017.

Robin Li, the Chinese internet giant’s founder, and the chief executive officer called the new revenue record a ‘milestone’ in Baidu’s growth but warned employees that 2019 will not be as rosy because China’s economy is slowing down, leading many companies to restructure their businesses.

In an email sent out to employees on the first working day of 2019, Li said: “On the one hand, the historical transformation of artificial intelligence is penetrating various industries, incubating massive potential for further development. On the other hand, economic growth changes and industrial restructuring are as cold and real as winter to every company. It is high time that Baidu stepped forward.”

China’s economy is experiencing its slowest growth for the first time since the past decade and has not been helped by the country’s trade war with the United States. That has seen the likes of Baidu’s fellow internet giants like JD.com and Tencent restructured their core businesses in recent times.

One positive for Baidu is that it remains China’s number one search engine, with its position strengthened by Google’s backtracking of its plans to re-enter the world’s most populous country.

According to the company’s ‘Year in Search’ for 2018, the most searched topic was the ‘World Cup’, followed by ‘Gaming’, ‘China-America trade war’, ‘Apple release’ and ‘Super Typhoon Mangkhut’. Shows like ‘The Story of Yanxi Palace’ and ‘Rap of China’, produced by Baidu-owned iQIYI, came in sixth and seventh respectively.

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