The Rise of Baidu (That’s Chinese for Google)
IN the summer of 1998 at a picnic in Silicon Valley, Eric Xu, a 34-year-old biochemist, introduced his shy, reserved friend Robin Li to John Wu, then the head of Yahoo’s search engine team.
Mr. Li, 30 at the time, was a frustrated staff engineer at Infoseek, an Internet search engine partly owned by Disney, a company whose fading commitment to Infoseek did not mesh with Mr. Li’s ongoing passion for search. Like Disney, Mr. Wu and Yahoo were also losing interest in the business prospects of search, and Yahoo — in a colossal corporate blunder — eventually outsourced all of its search functions to a little startup named Google.
Mr. Xu, who had called together some friends for a documentary he was making on Silicon Valley, thought the two search guys would hit it off. Mr. Wu says he exchanged greetings with Robin Li, but what most impressed him was that despite all of the pessimism surrounding search, Mr. Li remained undaunted.