Sunday, September 25, 2005

Baidu's Six Years(4)

Just passed the Spring Festival(Chinese New Year) of 2005, Baidu again became media focus. This time it is not some shocking moves in the market place. It is an interesting move in the executive front.

Dong Liang, an anchor from the PhoenixTV in Hongkong suddenly jumped ship to Baidu and becoming it's vice-president responsible for marketing and public relatioship.

Inviting Liang to join Baidu has been on Robin Li's mind for a long time.

As Baidu growing rapidly, Li realized the importance of urgent need for public relationship and market development.

Robin Li met Dong Liang the first time on a bus where they were on the way to a party of the media organizations. They started talk to each other and had a big argument on how to build an internet brand. Li found that Liang had special insights on many questions and the idea of inviting Liang to help in marketing development was born at that time.

In Dec. 2004, Robin Li went to Hongkong with general manager of Baidu's Shenzhen subsidiary Jiping Liu on a business trip. In a cafeteria in Grand Hyatt Hotel at Hongkong, Li had another long conversation with Liang.

During the conversation, Li put many of Baidu's problems in develpment process on the table. Liang gave each one a very candid personal view. The conversation confirmed Li's opinion on Dong Liang. He immediately invited the then super hot TV anchor to join Baidu.

Dong Liang did not giva a straight answer. Instead, he told Robin Li that he needed time to think about it.

Robin did not push him either. Through Jiping Liu, he continue to discuss many questions with Liang and the discussions gradually brought the two closer.

In Feb. 2005, Liu called in: "Robin, Dong Liang agreed!".

Liang's onboard gave people a great feeling of diversity at Baidu. Another story about Baidu's senior scientist Tao Hong also demonstrated the attraction of a Chinese born internet company.

Before joining Baidu, Tao Hong has worked for 15 years in the US. He was a senior scientist at ID Analytics.

In Jan. 2005, Hong came home for a visit. Being a shoolmate at SUNY-Buffalo, Robin Li invited him to visit Baidu.

Standing in front of the glass wall on the 12th floor of Ideal International Plaza, which located at Beijing's Loop4 north, Hong looked out. The familiar campus of his former shool Beida(Peking University) is clearly in the view.

The similar working environment as Silicon Valley combined with the rich culture of Beida moved him deeply.

Hong asked himself: Isn't it the place of his Chinese roots and Beijing dream?

Returned to the US, Tao Hong spent only one month to quit job and to pack. When many friends persuade him to stay, He said: "I'm going to China's Google."

Later, Hong "complained" to Robin that it was an understatement. Baidu's future must be even better than Google's.

In March 2005, Baidu operations for preparation of going public formally started. It is the begining of another high point in Baidu's legendary six years.

Investor relationship became the busiest place in the company: prospectus compiling and revising; training for Robin Li on speeches with the public relationship consultants; collection of opinions from media and investment firms. . . General manager of IR, Kun He and her collegues became powerful motors, generating continous energy for the operations.

The process of selection for underwriters also took a toll.

The majority opinion was to go with GoldmanSachs. Many Chinese internet firms have used GoldmanSachs as underwriter such as Shanda. Some also suggested Swiss First Boston who was underwritter for Google's IPO.

Robin Li made an surprising decision to have them both. Even more surprising, these two big investment banking rivalries agreed to jointly underwrite Baidu's IPO. That was also historical.

On July 19, Robin Li left Beijing with his team to start global roadshow.

In Hongkong, It was very successful. Requests for the stock quickly passed the total number of shares to be issued from the IPO.

It was a very good sign. Li thought so too.

The lunch time roadshow in New York also broke the record. There were 94 seats reserved for fund managers. 140 came. General manager of the IT business from Swiss First Boston came to calm Robin down and told him not be too nervous. Li smiled, "Don't worry, the more people come, the happier I am".

Once started, Robin Li was very relaxed. His special Chinese humor broght many laughters from the group of fund managers many of them are managing tens of billions of dollars.

It is without question that his excellent English, which he learned in the US as a student as well as a IT worker, combining with his Chinese humor has made the roadshow very fruitful.

On Aug. 4, Roadshow was on it's last leg. Robin Li and Baidu's CFO Shawn Wang and other executives held the last meeting. Two hours later, IPO was prices at $27 per share.

On Aug. 5, 11:40 AM Eastern time, trading started for Baidu's stocks. The opening price jumped to $66, broke $150 at one time, and closed at $120 per share. Baidu achieved a Chinese style victory in the US.

The colletion of $109 million also created many multi-millionaires and millionaires at the same time. For Robin Li, the young Baida student from Shanxi finally realized his dream of miracules.

"Open your arms, you will have the world" is a quatation from the classical "Hidden dragon and Crouching tigers".

To Robin Li and Baidu, their search service is the best interpretation--Use simplicity to cover everything, in all things together to find individual characteristics.

Baidu's legend is not over. China's internet legends are not over. Accompany with these legends, the powerful waves of the Chinese IT industries are moving forward.

Peng Cheng


Blogger smith said...

I am learning about blogs and like what you did in yours blog. Advantage Going Public

12:47 AM  

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