Baidu is China’s dominant internet search engine company. It is one of the largest artificial intelligence (AI) and internet companies in the world. It is most similar to Google in terms of features, services, and scale.

History of Baidu

Robin Li, Baidu’s cofounder, began his search engine experience as a software engineer for Dow Jones and Company in their Information Services department. Here is where Li started working on page-ranking algorithms and eventually developed RankDex, the first web engine with page-ranking and site-scoring algorithms.

He later was granted a patent for its ranking algorithm and left to work for Infoseek, an internet company that was also working on search engine algorithms. There he developed a program that allowed for image-based searches. 

In 2000, Li decided to create his own search engine using all the algorithms he developed in his previous years so that he could serve the mass population. Along with Eric Xu, they created Baidu. Growth and monetization came through the help of Silicon Valley Funding and its decision to allow people to bid for ad space on the search engine. This predates Google’s attempt at this advertising approach.

In 2003, Baidu launched a news search and picture search engine. In 2007, Baidu’s parent company was the first Chinese company included in the NASDAQ-100. In 2012, Baidu teamed up with Sina to provide mobile search results. Right now, it is the sixth-largest search engine in the world.

Baidu in China

  • Developed in the shadow of the Great Firewall of China, the search engine heavily censors its own search algorithm to help enforce existing censorship policies
    • Google is also banned under this policy
    • This policy disfavors foreign content providers
      • This way Chinese companies can be the dominant players in China’s online economy
    • Search censorship is under the discretion of the Chinese government
      • All activity on the internet (articles, public forums, community groups, etc.) must be considered politically acceptable
  • While Baidu’s search works outside of China, it was primarily created for users in China.
    • 94.4% of visits come from China
    • 1.8% comes from the United States
    • 1.5% comes from Japan

Other products & services

Baidu is more than just a powerful search engine. Baidu’s product portfolio includes a variety of products and services including:

Baidu Maps A mapping service that offers satellite imagery, street maps, street view, and indoor view perspectives. It also includes a route planner for those traveling by foot, car, or public transportation.
Baidu Baike An online, collaborative encyclopedia that is semi-regulated. However, Baidu Baike has had issues with censorship, copyright violations, and unsourced information.
Baidu Wangpan A cloud storage service. It also offers client software, file management, resources sharing, and third-party integrations.
Baidu Tieba A keyword-based discussion forum. Users can search up a keyword or phrase and socially interact with others who have also searched up the term of phrase.


Advances in AI

Besides being an internet company, Baidu’s on a fast track to becoming an industry leader in the world of AI. Through their own institution, Baidu Research, the company works with top Chinese universities including Tsinghua to explore a variety of different AI research projects in hopes of greatly impacting the world. This includes AI initiatives involving:

Mobile Ecosystem This includes a portfolio of applications:

  • Baidu App
  • Haokan
  • Baidu Post

These help communities connect and share knowledge and information 

AI Cloud A full suite of cloud services and solutions, including PaaS (platform as a service), SaaS (software as a service), and IaaS (infrastructure as a service).
Intelligent Driving & OGI Baidu’s growth initiatives include intelligent driving (HD Maps, automated valet parking, autonomous navigation pilot, intelligent electric vehicles, and robotaxi fleets) and Xiaodu smart devices. 


Read more about at Baidu’s no-code EasyDL tool, Baidu launches open AI platform, Baidu trained an AI agent, Baidu’s Android apps caught leaking sensitive data, Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu AI.

Amy Yang
Amy Yang
Amy Yang is a writer for Webopedia and Small Business Computing, and a junior research analyst at SoftwarePundit. She conducts in-depth analyses on software markets and products, including course creation software, CRM software, electronic signature software, social media software, website builder software and PDF editor software. She has a Bachelor of Science in Communication & Media, and a Minor in Web Programming and Applications from NYU. You can connect with Amy on LinkedIn.
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