Who’s Hu

Li Yanhong

Baidu’s showman

Li Yanhong

Li Yanhong (English name, Robin) is “the most handsome CEO in history” according to the Tianfu Morning Post. Born in 1968 in Shanxi province, Li graduated in information management from Peking University, before departing for a masters at New York State University.

Big break

He returned to China in 1999 and struck gold first time. His venture, Baidu, was a locally developed search engine designed to take on the likes of Yahoo and Google. Baidu’s local language capability gave it an early edge, and it now has a 61.6% market share in China, according to Analsys International.

Need to know

Baidu was listed on Nasdaq in 2005. The site’s name derives from a Song Dynasty poem about the persistent search for an ideal, represented by a beautiful woman (“hundreds and thousands of times, for her I searched in chaos, suddenly I turned by chance, to where the lights were waning, and there she stood…”).

A bit like Steve Jobs, Li also relishes the showman’s role of announcing innovative new products to an adoring techie crowd each year at the Baidu World event… although in Li’s case there are a good deal more women present in the audience.

Key stats

Baidu’s second quarter numbers were good, with revenues increasing by 36.7% to Rmb1.09 billion and with profits up 44.6% to Rmb383.3 million.

In his own words

“I really did not expect to become an idol,” he confesses. But Li adds that the publicity helps Baidu, so he is duty-bound to play the role.

And to relax

He’s danced the tango on primetime TV. Another reason for the girls to swoon…

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