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Baidu Bets on Young Employees as Pressure Mounts


Mar. 28 2019, Updated 3:33 p.m. ET

Baidu wants workforce that can grow with company

Baidu (BIDU) has launched a program to renew its leadership team. This program involves accelerating the promotion of its employees in their 20s and 30s to management roles and parting ways with older employees. For example, Zhang Yaqin, the 53-year executive who joined Baidu from Microsoft (MSFT) in 2014 and has been leading the company’s cloud and AI efforts, is retiring early, South China Morning Post reported.

Baidu wants to build a workforce and a leadership team that can grow the company, which is why it made the decision to speed up the transition of younger staff to management positions.

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Baidu is under pressure from Alibaba, JD, and Pinduoduo

Baidu has taken to revitalizing its leadership at a time when the company has come under intense competitive pressure in its core advertising market. Alibaba (BABA), Pinduoduo (PDD), and JD.com (JD) are growing their consumer reach across China and thus presenting tough competition to Baidu for digital advertising revenue in the country. JD reaches more than 305 million consumers, while Pinduoduo serves nearly 420 million consumers across China. Alibaba boasts over 600 million consumers on its marketplaces across China, making it an attractive digital advertising destination and alternative to Baidu for consumer brands.

Baidu is seeking to diversify outside advertising

As pressure mounts in the advertising market, Baidu is looking for an outlet. The company has diversified into fields such as cloud computing and autonomous driving, where last year, it teamed up with Ford Motor (F) and Volvo to test and launch a taxi service using self-driving vehicles in China.

Baidu’s revenue rose 22% YoY to $4.0 billion in the fourth quarter.


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