At two o'clock on the afternoon of May 21st, Robin Li and Lu Qi appeared together in the interior meeting room of Baidu building.
Three days ago, Baidu announced that Lu Qi was no longer president of Baidu group and COO since July. The news comes out, triggering the giant shock inside and outside the Baidu. Baidu shares fell 9.5%, the biggest decline in nearly three years.
At the meeting that day, Lu Qi first came to the stage. He used "three very" to thank Robin Li's trust, "Robin (Robin Li) as the founder of the whole company all the business to me a personal management, this is really very difficult, very rare, I treasure. "Some people asked whether turnover is related to executive struggle. There's nothing to do with Lu Qi.
Lu Qi only appeared for 10 minutes and left early due to his flight.
The 57 year old professional manager, who was thin and wearing T-shirt and jeans on any occasion, airborne Baidu more than a year ago. Prior to his arrival, he served as vice president of Microsoft, known as "the most powerful Chinese in Silicon Valley". The New York Times described him as "extraordinary endurance and enthusiasm." His famous motto is "always maintain a combat posture" and "jump into the right boat at the right time".
Media commented that Lu Qi was lacking in technical male Robin (Robin Li) in terms of enterprise operation, management and decision making. Baidu has been entrusted with the task of promoting the reform of the IT giant.
However, Robin Li spent 16 months from empowerment to regain power.
Compared to the rush to leave, greeting Lu Qi, there is a full sense of ritual.
At the meeting, Lu Qi's authority was announced to be responsible for product, technology, marketing and market operation. Lei Jianping, a senior Internet media man, was invited to attend the meeting. He saw Robin Li with a rare and patient picture of a person. "It is good to see that he can ask Lu Qi to join him." Robin's mood is very good. "
Lu Qi, President of Baidu and COO, was given Baidu's biggest power for 17 years. The six biggest undertakings, vice president, reported to him, and he reported to Robin Li. "Other than Robin Li, everyone else was down. "There is a media evaluation.
Robin Li has a reason to choose Lu Qi. Born in 1987, he graduated from the computer department of Fudan University in Jiangsu and went to the Carnegie Mellon University. After becoming a search expert in IBM and YAHOO, he was the vice president of YAHOO search before entering Microsoft.
Microsoft claimed that because it could not buy YAHOO search, it turned to search for the best people. After Microsoft, Mr Lu was responsible for a search software called "(Bing) Bing". Under the strong Google eye, he took up 20% of the European market.
"Baidu relies on technology, Tencent relies on products, and Alibaba relies on operation. A former Baidu executive told the characters: "Lu Qi is a technical fan and a search engine. It is logical for him to come to Baidu. "
In addition to technology fit, Baidu needs an outsider in recent years to get rid of the fog. From the computer to the mobile Internet era, the gameplay has changed, and the giants have their own worries. Before 2014, the game was called traffic distribution, so long as there was traffic, there was business. Ali's commerce, Tencent's social networking and Baidu's search have different traffic flows, but they all live well.
When the headlines appear today, the profit model is transformed into a "information flow" pattern based on content distribution: before the user does not actively express what you want to see, the backstage has passed a set of algorithms to guess what you like and do well.
At this time, Ali depended on mobile Taobao and Alipay, with the Tencent with WeChat, allowing both AT to get tickets to the mobile Internet age, and search bidding ads as a single source of revenue, not to find the next growth point of Baidu, the strongest anxiety in the BAT.
The subtle mentality of "knowing backward" is spreading inside Baidu, and the experience of a Baidu grass roots employee is "can't find north and head around." "He describes that every year after 2012, the company has put forward some new directions. Finance, European business and AI are the most widely used ones," O2O. He didn't understand why a search company invested 20 billion in glutinous rice group shopping network and 250 million to send out to take out. "I feel like trying to catch a little in every direction, but there's no way to catch it." "
In the former editor of Forbes magazine and Internet commentator Yin Sheng, spending money on the O2O layout is an extension of Baidu's consistent strategy, that is, to make search boxes omnipotent, not only to search information, but to search services, "but to a certain extent, O2O overlooks the information industry. Other changes that occur are more user focused information flows. "
The worst of these plight is the death of a college student named Wei Zexi in 2016, with "the sale of hemophilia", and the Baidu's reputation in hell. A number of Baidu employees told the people that they were afraid to say they were Baidu people at one time. "The ridicule of the time was that it was a bad thing to say that it was very Baidu." When the crowd was in full swing, there was a protest at the company downstairs.
Baidu finally realized the importance of change, but there was no one who could push the reform. "I'm not the most adventurous person," Robin Li himself once said. "I'm risking all the risks I've studied and studied. I think it's worth the risk. "
Robin Li showed the rationality everywhere. Once, a Baidu employee and Robin Li had a meeting, and he found that the boss was making a EXCEL form that details the performance, weight, price of seven or eight cars, even the size of the trunk and the width of the seat. The employee quipped, "in the Chinese rich, you may be the last person to make a EXCEL table to weigh the person who buys a car. Robin Li looked at the other side and said, "we must remain rational. "
One of Baidu's resignation executives felt that, unlike executive level executives, Lu Qi was relatively equal to Robin Li in the field of vision, providing new strategic thinking, while Lu Qi was also a master of technical strategy and management, with a strong communication ability.
"Robin leaders have been working too long and need new ideas to attack. The above resignation executives believe that Lu Qi and Robin Li are a rare complement.
Robin Li (left) and Lu Qi (right)
All in AI
When Lu Qi took over the president, Baidu was already a disorganized jigsaw puzzle: traditional search, mobile Baidu, and finance, O2O, and the new AI business.
Robin Li did not know how to restructure the architecture. Struggling for nearly 5 years in the mobile Internet era, Robin Li said in a media interview in 2016 that the process of looking for the next scale of income was very painful. He predicted that the profit business in finance, also known as artificial intelligence, was an important strategy for Baidu.
About $1 billion 200 million of Baidu's $9 billion of Baidu's income in the first three quarters of 2017 was reinvested in R & D, accounting for 13%, most of which were focused on artificial intelligence.
Baidu's urgency for artificial intelligence seems to be caused by an old Baidu. "The anxiety of the AT two is so much money that can't make it. The anxiety of Baidu is what I do in the future, so it will be All in." "
Lu Qi's determination of AI is related to his experience in Microsoft. At Microsoft, Lu Qi led the research and development of the "Xiaobing" Ai robot. "Xiaobing" has been well known for its involvement in micro-blog and the United States. The number of dialogues has been over 20 billion since it was released in 2014.
The reason for the success of "small ice" is that she has established a system of self - Evolution dialogue, "talk with me", which Lu Qi thinks means the emergence of a new interactive model and a new era. The great times in the history of science and technology are accompanied by interactive revolutions, from the interaction between the keyboard and the mouse and the human in the personal computer era, to the mobile Internet age, with the touch of the mobile phone as the interaction, to the "dialogue and the platform" that is now rising.
The dialogue ability of artificial intelligence makes all kinds of knowledge and information service run on them, and form the basic platform of ecological environment. This is the source of Lu Qi's enthusiasm for artificial intelligence.
Baidu seems to be born with a gene for artificial intelligence. In Lu Qi's view, Baidu understands data, understands algorithms and understands large-scale integration. This is the core of AI. Baidu search is the prototype of AI. Robin Li also thinks so. At the geek conference in January 2018, he said, "search is essentially a matter of personal intelligence, and computers are used to understand people. Enter what you want to find and guess what the user wants to do to meet his needs. "
Under All in AI, Lu Qi divides Baidu business according to the four quadrant of "main channel" and "moat", "critical mission" and "non critical mission". AI and information flow become the main channel business, which has the highest priority in resource allocation. Baidu can be included in the moat as the dominant product, such as search. Some are included in the non key mission of moat, such as encyclopedia, knowledge, maps, etc., with little new input. Baidu medical, takeaway, glutinous rice group buying and other O2O businesses are being cut, cut or transferred.
In short, Baidu's new strategy is to subsidize the research and development of artificial intelligence by burning money from search and information flow.
For the establishment of the AI direction, it seems to be a "caterpillar development" of Baidu's products in the view of a senior employee who left. "Like Taobao APP out, bring out Alipay, Ali cloud, ant gold clothing, each product is stuck in the tuyere, one with one, become a product matrix, can resist the risk. If Baidu is a AI company, it can form a user portrait according to the data provided by the search, and construct a matrix of information flow products, video products, financial products and so on. AI technology can be used for many products. "
On the 119th day of Lu Qi's accession, Robin Li sent an internal letter to all staff members. In the letter, Baidu rarely changed its mission from "finding the most equal and convenient access to information" and replacing it with "technology to make the complex world simpler." Robin Li explained that the new mission includes the old mission and the larger scope of the old mission, reflecting the change that AI will bring to the world.
Lu Qi's one knife is not uncontentious. "Like maps and post bars, there are obviously many things that can be done. A Baidu map employee said that many people were dissatisfied with this, and some of their senior executives were running away.
A senior Baidu resignation told the people that after he left, his former subordinates often complained to him and felt puzzled and uncertain about the future.
In March 2018, someone asked Lu Qi questions in the intranet, feeling that the Department had been changing, and the individual had no sense of involvement and sense of purpose. Lu Qi responded that appropriate adjustments should be accepted.
"The biggest challenge of corporate change is emotional closes. One is about things, the other is for people. In the eyes of Yin, the right thing is to refer to some of the people who have put too much energy into the business, but they do not conform to the long-term direction of the company, but the people who follow many years are not suitable for the future development. "The founder will often find someone to do it when he can't make up his mind." "
Lu Qi was the knife with a quick knife.
Baidu's mobile Internet products
When Lu Qi attended the event, he was almost all dressed up in T-shirts and jeans, with a slim figure and a golden eye. He often showed a boy's concentration and curiosity.
A senior Baidu executive who spoke with Lu Qi, Lu Qi rarely asked questions sharply, but used many examples to inspire subordinates. He usually doesn't look at conceptual things and looks directly at how to do it. He will talk about what cases in the United States, and how Ali is doing it. "His pattern is open, it is very mild and very personal." "
And one of the Baidu grass-roots employees participated in the "hacker's Day" of Lu Qi as the judge. He was very impressed with Lu Qi's question. "A AI project, he will ask specific algorithms and programming, and most of the general executives only ask the user experience and other more virtual things. "
A number of Baidu employees said that Lu Qi could feel an engineer culture, emphasizing the matter of fact and seeking truth from facts. Yin Sheng believes that Baidu has always had the cultural foundation of engineers, and pays attention to "simplicity and dependence". Lu Qilai's purpose is to activate this culture.
Lu Qi once said in a media interview that the key to innovation and Reform in a big company is culture. But cultural construction is not simple. Baidu has a long history of illness.
In his internal speech, Robin Li said that if a simple mechanical KPI was used to break down and deliver, it would be very unlikely to understand why to do this at the grass-roots level to the frontline staff. In the view of a grass-roots Baidu employee, the level of Baidu is deep, and the underlying fluctuation is often without feeling.
In addition, the mountains and forests, the interests of departments entangled, resulting in low efficiency. A former Baidu middle-level employee told the personage that before Baidu's four big business departments had their own financial offices, they were responsible for each other's revenue, and it was difficult for them to cooperate with each other. He went to a business department to extract data, "the approval chain from the manager to the senior manager, the director, and the director of the other side, the final decision is still there, say no batch." "
The enthusiasm for innovation is also vanishing in this layer of entanglement. A grassroots employee has issued a creative idea, the director saw it, feel good, but in the follow-up, the various levels of the performance of the attitude is not warm, love do not do. "There is no independent KPI for you to do more, and you may feel that it is not for them if you have the proceeds. In case of failure, who is responsible for it? "This grassroots employee thinks that after the company has grown up, many people just want to be meritorious but nothing.
In the view of Yin, Baidu may be a little less confident in the past few years, and some big companies are ill in management. Some managers may first seek self-protection, which is easy to lead to the mountains and be overcrowded and insensitive to innovation.
Lu Qi has found the problem. One of his prescriptions is to start the "new wind meeting". From mid November last year, each month, Lu Qi will share a theme for employees. The first three themes are: strategic, cultural and information flows. The venue is very large and can accommodate 1000 people. The employees can interact on the spot or watch live video.
The purpose of the "new wind meeting" is to allow Lu Qi to communicate directly with employees, and the staff's questions are very "simple and rough", from how the barriers to the data assets are broken, how to choose the KPI and the user experience, and even the problems that are too small for the computer hard disk. For these questions, Lu Qi never evaded and answered directly.
Lu Qi will also respond directly to employees on the intranet. A grass-roots employee asked the specific matter of his business. Lu Qi answered hundreds of words in person. "This is like the general going to the first line of troops to inspect, shake hands with you, communicate with each other, everyone immediately morale comes up. The above grass-roots employees said that they had been answered by front-line colleagues before.
What Lu Qi is most praised for is his diligence and fighting style. According to people familiar with the matter, he did not join Baidu for a long time. He searched the middle level of Baidu director level above and talked one by one. Lu Qi usually sleeps 4 hours a day and arrives at Baidu headquarters at six a.m. until late at night. Most of the meetings he convened would be opened in half an hour. Before the meeting, he will read all the information submitted by the participants and ask questions directly at the meeting.
Robin Li evaluated Lu Qi in an internal report of the Federation of industry and Commerce in June 2017. "
After Lu Qilai, the company's highest light moment was released in July 5th last year at the Baidu AI conference, and released products such as the driverless car and Apollo intelligent system. Lei Jianping at the scene was very impressed by Lu Qi. "He controlled the whole game." "
When Lu Qi was connected to Robin Li on the five rings, he put his hands in the air and led to a scene of screaming. One of the grass-roots employees said, "the feeling of his speech is that we are Niu press, that is, NO.1, and the second people who can think of it at that time are ma Yun. "
"Lu Qi can't say no merit. "Lei Jianping said.
Lu Qi at the Baidu AI Conference
Although the momentum of All in AI is huge, the specific revenue is not ideal.
In the first quarter of 2018, Baidu's revenue grew by 29% over the same period last year. However, the automatic driving of AI Star project failed to bring real benefits to Baidu. Once every analyst asks about the commercialization of automatic driving, Lu Qi evasions and refuses to answer directly.
Robin Li also lacks confidence in the prospects of AI. At the geek conference in January this year, when someone asked "All in AI", Robin Li said, "I'm very confident of AI", but he also said that AI would be embodied in a lot of hardware, not the best of AI, and finally a cell phone.
After Lu Qi became president, Baidu had no fundamental change in the mode of operation of large companies. Many employees said that in addition to morale and confidence in the sense of change, usually do their own things, little change.
To make things more complex, Robin Li's wife, Ma Dongmin and Lu Qi, almost the same time as a parachute Baidu, were responsible for investing, the position as the chairman's assistant, which was seen as a remedy for Baidu's slow investment in the era of mobile Internet. According to "finance and economics", Ma Dong min is relatively strong, and he is especially competent and particularly attractive. She has a shareholding ratio of 4.68% and a voting power of 15.5%, with a high voice in Baidu.
Ma Dongmin's views often disagree with Robin Li. "Do you think he's right?" a person close to Baidu told people, when a senior executive and Robin Li had dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Robin Li.
"Do one thing, equivalent to asking two people to nod." A friend close to Lu Qi revealed that he could not solve the two contradictions between CEO couples.
Before Lu Qi unloaded the president, there was a slight sign. For example, after he entered the job, whether it was Lu Qi's personal AI business, or the information flow business of the search department, the leaders of the various business groups reported to Lu Qi. But since the second half of 2017, Robin Li has brought the information flow team personally. Since 2018, Lu Qi has rarely asked about traditional search business.
At the same time, Baidu is also adjusting. In April 18th, Li Jing, the youngest vice president of Baidu, announced his resignation in the circle of friends. At the same time, Cui Shan Shan, one of the seven Baidu Musketeers, has returned.
Cui Shanshan joined Baidu in January 2000, and is the only female member of Baidu seven Musketeers. In July 2010, Cui Shanshan left Baidu to concentrate on raising his children. The return to Baidu, she will serve as Secretary General of Baidu Culture Committee, responsible for talent team and cultural construction.
Lu Qi's power seems to have been redefined after the adjustment of power and personnel reorganization. In the view of Yin, the second stage is what kind of governance structure is established by the company, what is the decision mechanism, which may consider a choice of 5 to 10 years, and then go forward, involving the artificial intelligence and the layout of the information flow, all of which require real gold and silver to invest.
"There are many excellent professional managers, but few really change. In the view of Yin Sheng, the experience in Microsoft shows that Lu Qi is an excellent professional manager and can be responsible for a core business, but he lacks a chance to prove that he can be a change person. Perhaps in his view, Baidu is the opportunity.
Lu Qi has been silent since announcing his departure from Baidu. In June 4th, Lu Qi replied to the character's mail: "because of the state I am in now, I will not accept any interviews. I hope to get your understanding. "
writingQin Wen Zi