Robin Li, CEO of Chinese search engine Baidu, was recently interviewed at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. In a revealing discussion, the tech titan claimed that his product is used by 99% of Chinese internet users. Perhaps that’s why Baidu’s share price has doubled in value in less than a year, putting it on par with such acknowledged tech giants as eBay and Facebook.
Online gaming companies who view China as the holy grail of markets would do well to contemplate what such concentration of internet search power in one company means, especially when that company operates under the watchful eye of an authoritarian anti-gambling government.
Despite Baidu’s dominance of the Chinese market (and Google’s exit from China earlier this year), Li rejects the notion that his company is anti-competitive. “If you’re not prepared to compete in this market, you’re not going to be successful.” In light of rumors that a branch of the Chinese government is planning to launch its own search engine, Li better be prepared to back up those words.