In a latest documentary broadcasted on CCTV 2’s program “Encounter With Leader”, the crew spend 9 months recording the everyday details in life and work of Li Yanhong, the founder of CEO of Baidu Group.
In the documentary, Li Yanhong spoke very frankly about what area he was focusing on right now, and what problem and stress he had to suffer. He even predicted what the Chinese Internet industry was going to develop in the future.
In addition, he responded to many hot-spot issues in the documentary.
1) In 2015, Baidu vowed to shift itself and invest 20 billion in the O2O business. Although Baidu explained that it attempted to connect not only “man and information”, but also “man and service”, the capital market didn’t support the move.
Mr. Li once publicly declared that it would take some time for the Wall Street to understand Baidu’s move, and they wouldn’t rule out the possibility to go back to China. Rumor has it that Baidu has been preparing for such move and is going to first privatize itself and then list on the Chinese market.
In the documentary, however, he admitted that he made such decision after seeing the trend and compared to the move to his decision to go back to China.
“Many people might not understand why we made this decision, but as long as I see the trend, the room for improvement, I will do something to change the status quo.”
2) There is no direct correlation between Baidu’s success and Google’s withdrawal from China. For a long time, people might attribute Baidu’s success to the withdrawal of Google, yet Mr. Li denounced such judgment and suggested that there wasn’t any direct correlation.
“This is just stereotype. I want to take this opportunity and make it clear: Before Google left China, its share in China had been declining for five consecutive years. At the same period, Baidu’s market share rose steadily. So their isn’t direct correlation between Google’s withdrawal from China and Baidu’s success. After all, the real challenge comes from oneself, not competitors.”
3) Baidu isn’t afraid to compete with other Internet giants, but rather edge innovation, because that’s what’s really going to change everything.
“On the contrary, those we are not familiar are more likely to develop quietly, rise up all of a sudden and finally replace us.”
In addition, Mr. Li admitted that the most challenging thing for him is to transcend himself.
4) Rumor has it that Mr. Li went back home and found that his wife pulled out all the vegetables in our garden because his wife felt that he was not ambitious enough and wanted him to go back to China and start his own business.
The real story, however, is that he didn’t came back to China in the suggestion of his wife:
“After I started my own business in China, I came back to the US and found my wife pull out all the vegetables in our garden. When I asked why, she replied that no one could look after these vegetables since I was not at home, so she just pulled them out.”
Moreover, Mr. Lee even talked about his childhood, and revealed for the first time that he was sent back home by the head teacher the first day he went to school.
The following is the full transcript of Mr. Li Yanhong’s conversation with CCTV:
A naughty child
Shi Xiaonuo: Are you a Straight-A student from primary school all the way to college?
Li Yanhong: I was quite naughty when I was young. The first day I went to school, I was sent back by the head teacher. How come? Well, I got into a fight with a classmate and weren’t willing to apologize. When the head teacher asked me for my name, I responded: “Don’t you know my name?” The head teacher got so angry that he sent me home saying that he couldn’t teach me. Later on, when I did well in my studies, I was praised oftentimes, so I became embarrassed to make troubles any more.
Concentrating more on product and technology
Shi Xiaonuo: Do you find any shortcoming in you?
Li Yanhong: Lots of. I don’t feel like getting along with others. Instead, I prefer to sit before a computer and pay more attention to the product, technology.
Shi Xiaonuo: Do you find there a gap between being an engineer and a boss?
Li Yanhong: To be honest, I am not very good at management. Different people have different methods to get along with other people. But generally, you have to make friends with them first and then settle the problem. However, it’s not easy for me to make friends with others.
Shi Xiaonuo: So what did you do then?
Li Yanhong: Well, I quit. For example, many people made a fortune by keeping a good relationship with mobile carriers and providing multi-media message service. Baidu never did that kind of thing, because I find it hard to keep good relationship with others. I do admit that we’ve missed some opportunities, yet the world is full of opportunities.
Enjoying taking risks
Shi Xiaonuo: For me, 20 billion is already a huge sum of money. Are you afraid that you might be wrong and lose the battle? What if the investment didn’t live up to your expectation?
Li Yanhong: I am an entrepreneur, so I enjoy taking risks. When I just quitted my job, sold the house in the US and established my own startup back in China, I ran a high risk of failure. Still, I managed to rise from rags and make my life much more meaningful.
The real story of Baidu’s establishment
Li Yanhong and his wife Ma Dongmin
Shi Xiaonuo: Is it true that your wife encouraged you to establish Baidu?
Li Yanhong: I’m afraid that’s not true. When a story is retold from one person to another for several times, it became a false one. For example, there is a false story where I went back home and found that my wife pulled out all the vegetables in our garden because my wife felt that I was not ambitious enough and wanted me to go back to China and start my own business. The real story, however, is that after I started my own business in China, I came back to the US and found my wife pull out all the vegetables in our garden. When I asked why, she replied that no one could look after these vegetables since I was not at home, so she just pulled them out.
Shi Xiaonuo: Is it true that the spouse one choose will have an impact on one’s lifestyle and career?
Li Yanhong: That’s true. One’s spouse is going to live with you all day long, so it’s natural that one’s spouse will have an impact on oneself. For entrepreneurs, startups are like their own babies because they often devoted so much to their startups. Quite often, it’s hard for entrepreneurs to strike a good balance between life and work. However, it is their spouses who live a life with them, so their spouses will certainly be affected to different extents.
The real challenge
Shi Xiaonuo: Do you agree that Baidu succeeds because Google left China?
Li Yanhong: This is just stereotype. I want to take this opportunity and make it clear: Before Google left China, its share in China had been declining for five consecutive years. At the same period, Baidu’s market share rose steadily. So their isn’t direct correlation between Google’s withdrawal from China and Baidu’s success. After all, the real challenge comes from oneself, not competitors.
Shi Xiaonuo: Do you have any effective way to have a rest and release pressure?
Li Yanhong: Sleep! As long as I feel stressed, I go to have a nap. Yet, I can fall asleep very soon, but will wake up in a short time.
Shi Xiaonuo: Are you afraid that Baidu will be outperformed by a black horse suddenly one day and be left in disadvantage?
Li Yanhong: Yes, I am. Both large-scale and small-sized companies are likely to surpass us. As a matter of fact, I am not afraid to compete with large-scale ones, since I have spent most of my time dealing with them. On the contrary, those we are not familiar are more likely to develop quietly, rise up all of a sudden and finally replace us. When we see the history of the IT industry for the past several years, we might find that such things happen a lot. Still, the most challenging thing for me is to transcend myself.
[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Sina Tech, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.