In the past two years, Ma Dongmin is a key figure that Baidu cannot do.
Text: Tech Planet (WeChat ID: tech618) Li Xiaolei
Baidu in the summer of 2019 seems to be very similar to 2017.
In the same year, influenced by the Wei Zexi incident and the pressure of Baidu's transformation, Baidu handed over a financial report with far lower market expectations. Coupled with the departure of Baidu’s chief scientist Wu Enda and other high-ranking executives, the stock price that fell due to the sound has cast a shadow over Baidu’s future development prospects.
In January 2017, in order to survive the crisis, Li Yanhong moved two rescuers: the Chinese legendary manager Lu Qi, recalled “21 years of life companion, 16 years of business partners”, Ma Dongmin. However, with Lu Qi’s position in Baidu and the All in AI strategy not being recognized by Li Yanhong, Baidu is not on the right track.
In 2019, the same situation was once again staged. Baidu’s sacred minister, Baidu’s senior vice president, Baidu search company president Xiang Hailong left, Baidu’s rights system began a new round of reshuffle. At the same time, Baidu Q1 quarterly earnings reported a loss for the first time, and once again pulled Baidu to the edge of the abyss.
Behind these two big changes in Baidu, Ma Dongmin, who has a shareholding ratio of 4.68% and a voting rights of 15.5%, is playing a more direct role in Baidu's decision. Although Baidu's official website of the eight-person core management team, Ma Dongmin did not occupy a seat. But whether it is Baidu executive reshuffle or overall business integration adjustment, foreign investment, etc., there are many shadows behind her.
It has been 880 days since Ma Dongmin announced his return. In these days, Baidu’s “invisible decision makers” have done something. The Thunder-style Ma Dongmin can also assist Li Yanhong to bring Baidu back to the peak of market value?
Baidu "Boss Mother" returns to the end
After a lapse of ten years, in 2017, Ma Dongmin returned to Baidu again as a Special Assistant to the Chairman, responsible for Baidu's investment, human and financial work. Li Yanhong and Ma Dongmin, as well as Estaff members (Estaff is the virtual organization representing Baidu's highest decision-making), together constitute Baidu's core decision-making system.
Regarding this return, according to Ma Dongmin, “the sense of crisis and the sense of mission” prompted her to turn back from the “Bolshevik party outside the party”.
This sense of crisis stems from the fact that in 2016, Baidu’s public image fell to the bottom due to the bloody friend’s selling event and the Wei Zexi incident; Baidu’s core business bidding advertising growth rate frustrated, leading to the fourth quarter of 2016 and the whole In the annual financial report, there has been a double decline in revenue.
Compared with Tencent and Alibaba in 2017, Baidu's market value has been far removed, and it is more than 200 billion US dollars compared with Tencent and Ali. Looking at it now, Baidu's market value is less than one-tenth of Alibaba and Tencent. In its heyday, Baidu was the number one company in China's Internet market capitalization.
“In the past four and a half years, what happened, there is too much need to reflect on it. "Ma Dongmin returned to the beginning, trying to pull everyone back to the same track, reflecting on the fall of the past few years, she also said angrily: "The whole Baidu, from bottom to top, people are overstaffed. ”
In fact, similar to Ali's own <18 Lohan", Baidu also had a founding team named "Seven Musketeers". In 2017, when Li Yanhong participated in the program “Off-road Thousand Miles”, when he was living in the wild with Baye, he also recalled that Baidu’s executives had changed in 2008.
At that time, Bai Zun CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Wang Zhansheng died in the sea during the New Year holiday. Subsequently, CTO (Chief Technology Officer) Liu Jianguo decided to resign and start a business. The departure of two consecutive executives put Li Yanhong in a helpless position to manage the company alone. “Suddenly, you are left alone to manage. ”
It is undeniable that the arrival of Ma Dongmin has greatly eased Li Yanhong’s loneliness in managing the company. Lu Qi and Ma Dongmin took away most of the direct management affairs. One side of the data can also explain that the number of executives who reported directly to Li Yanhong’s corporate affairs dropped sharply, from the past ten to six or seven.
Behind it is that Ma Dongmin is exerting more and more influence. Baidu people who have experienced Baidu’s peak to trough have the same feelings. Ma Dongmin has always heard his voice and has not seen anyone. In an interview with Tencent Technology, Fu Wei said, "All her intentions are behind the boss and Lu Qi. You can't tell which one is the boss wife, and which one is not. ”
Therefore, although there is no direct title, Ma Dongmin also participated in the company's business management after the return. A VP of the chief technology revealed to Tencent that Ma Dongmin would not participate in the daily meetings of his business, but at the annual budget meeting of his department, Ma Dongmin attended and participated in the discussion.
Ma Dongmin summed up his management style: he likes to analyze communication directly and honestly, likes to establish process mechanism, like timeline and deadline. The invisible decision-maker who has gradually penetrated all of Baidu's business has made drastic reforms for Baidu's personnel and business systems in the past two years.
Baidu manpower enters the "Ma Dongmin era"
Ma Dongmin believes that talent is the most valuable asset of a company. Therefore, one of the primary tasks of its return is to set up a stall for personnel. Ma Dongmin has established a good bridge between everyone and the company and Robin (Lee Yanhong).
She hopes that with her own judgment, communication, execution and her hard working, she can help the company's strategy in all aspects. Therefore, after Ma Dongmin returned to Baidu, Baidu management has more obvious turmoil than in the past.
The first round of executive reshuffle was in the third month of Ma Dongmin's return to Baidu. Since March 2017, several executives have left.
From Baidu Senior Vice President, Chairman of the Technology Strategy Committee, General Manager of Automated Driving Division Wang Jin, to Baidu, the company’s former vice president, Baidu’s general manager, and Baidu’s chief scientist, Andrew Ng, have taken the initiative for various reasons. Or passive separation.
In fact, the signal has been sent from Li Yanhong's internal letter issued on February 17, 2017. Li Yanhong wrote, “When welcoming the new era, it is also necessary to clean the door. ”
The internal letter also wrote, "There must be people who have to break the loopholes in the system", "The management must also have metabolism." If you can, you can't. Good is good, bad is bad. If you do a good job and you don’t do well, you should take measures. ”
This is not like the traditional style of Li Yanhong. John Thornton, former COO and president of Goldman Sachs, once commented on Li Yanhong, saying that Li Yanhong's personality is very different from the successful people or entrepreneurs in the eyes of ordinary people. “It is very soft and not so strong. & rdquo; After the return of Ma Dongmin, Baidu’s executives who failed to achieve results began to gain strength.
Among Baidu’s retired executives in the past two years, the most attention is undoubtedly Lu Qi and Xiang Hailong.
In May 2018, Lu Qi, who is known as Baidu “Mr. Key”, announced that he will cease to be the President and Chief Operating Officer of Baidu Group from July. The outside world has different opinions on the reasons why Lu Qi chose to leave. One of the arguments is that Lu Qi left because of Baidu & ldquo; Palace Fighting.
Lei Feng.com reported that, "Lu Qi was the owner of the mother Ma Dongmin dug Baidu, and this time Lu Qi insisted on leaving, but also because of the dissatisfaction with the combination of Li Yanhong + Ma Dongmin. & rdquo; After Lu Qi left, the rights were more concentrated, and Ma Dongmin also began to increase the "suitable" candidates.
In fact, while Ma Dongmin returned, Baidu entrepreneur veteran, who served as vice president of Baidu market and business development, assistant to the president, Ren Xuyang returned to Baidu as the chief consultant. In December 2017, one of the Baidu Seven Musketeers, Cui Wei, also announced his return as the Secretary-General of the Baidu Culture Committee. Until April 2019, Liu Hui, the former senior vice president of human resources, announced that he would retire in May, and Cui Shanshan began to take full responsibility for Baidu's human resources work.
Many people believe that the Secretary-General of the Baidu Culture Committee was only a void job. This also directly pointed out that Ma Dongmin is still at a critical position in the manpower affairs of the past two years.
According to financial reports, Cui Shanshan had a conversation with him before a senior executive left. According to the report, she threw a question in the conversation: Baidu today, this situation, the market value has not broken, what is the responsibility of everyone? Robin is in itself responsible, what responsibility should others bear?
In May of this year, Xiang Hailong, who resigned, may have taken responsibility. Baidu search company, which Baidu veteran is responsible for, still contributes the most revenue to Baidu. However, in Li Yanhong's internal open letter, he thanked Hailong for his 14 years of contribution. There is also a warning in the letter, "as a leading figure," & lsquo; we tried our best & rsquo; useless. ”
Ma Dongmin "Fast Knife"
Some views attributed the drop in Baidu's market value to the old territory of the business, and the new business tried to explore not timely or bet inaccurate.
One of the most important points is the choice of the track and the mistakes in foreign investment. For example, in the O2O business, Baidu has made a huge amount of “stakes”, but failed to occupy the core position of the market. The longest-served one in foreign investment was the $1.9 billion in the purchase of 91 assistants in the same year, but the gains were minimal.
36kr has previously conducted an inventory of the three investment businesses of BAT. In several important fields including O2O, e-commerce, internet finance, and film and television literature, Baidu’s investment layout was always slow and unsuccessful. It is also a common problem in Baidu's investment in various fields.
In the past two years or so, Ma Dongmin did not directly serve in the Baidu war investment department. However, Ma Dongmin has always been the direct leader of the investment department. Putting Baidu's investment business on the right track is its main focus.
After the investment power was handed over to Ma Dongmin, Baidu’s investment strategy has undergone substantial changes. On the one hand, Baidu focuses its investment on artificial intelligence, travel and corporate services, and begins to lay out overseas investments. In 2017, Baidu acquired wholly-owned artificial intelligence companies such as KITT AI, Raven Technology and xPerception. IT Orange data shows that in 2017, Baidu invested in six overseas companies. The total financing for these six investment events was approximately $112 million.
On the other hand, Ma Dongmin changed the shortcomings of Baidu's investment decision-making cycle.
According to IT Orange data, as of December 31, 2018, Baidu's investment events in 2018 reached 59, and the investment activity is very different from AT, which is less than half of them. However, in 2017, Baidu's investment activity increased significantly. In 2018, it hit a record high, compared with 16 in 2017.
A more obvious case is that in the past, Li Yanhong rarely looked at the project personally, but once Ma Dongmin saw a company or a project, he would personally go to see the entrepreneur and understand the development status and prospects of the project.
Wei Dong, the CEO of the first car about the car, said in an interview with the financial news that after several intensive meetings in a month, Baidu’s venture capital and Baidu Capital led a B+ round of financing of 700 million yuan. The speed is faster than the expectations of the first car about the car.
In fact, such a "Ma Dongmin style" speed has no precedent in Baidu. Wei Dong said that part of it was attributed to Lu Qi, who used the work style of “Desperately Saburo” to drive the rapid advancement of Baidu’s business, but Ma Dongmin’s return brought important changes —— between investment and business The structure is sorted out.
From letting the industry “do not understand” to gradually focus on artificial intelligence, enterprise services and hardware, Baidu’s foreign investment has become an important part of its business.
Today, in Baidu's investment, Ma Dongmin has become the master of “real hammer”. On March 7 this year, Beijing Baidu Investment Management Co., Ltd. changed its business information, Li Yanhong retired as director, Ma Dongmin and Wang Haifeng became new directors. Ma Dongmin truly became the direct leader of Baidu's war.
"Invisible" and the key Ma Dongmin
After Ma Dongmin and Lu Qi came to Baidu, they also moved a big knife to the business. On February 8, 2017, Baidu announced the abolition of the medical division. The future layout of Baidu's medical business will focus on artificial intelligence.
In 2015, during the O2O dividend era, Li Yanhong announced that he would spend 20 billion to make O2O. He also said that, in the future, Baidu O2O business revenue will exceed search revenue. & rdquo; Baidu take-out, Baidu glutinous rice is the key support project at that time.
Baidu take-out internal corruption, management changes, financing difficulties, sustained losses and other issues have blocked its long-term development. Ma Dongmin once led the Baidu takeaway to sell SF, an attempt. In 2017, Baidu’s takeaway was sold for $500 million, and the Baidu Investment M&A part of Ma Dongmin’s responsibility was also responsible.
Shenwang has also reported that as an important person behind the scenes, Ma Dongmin also made a lot of efforts for the promotion of DuerOS in 2018. In order to help DuerOS get more support from partners, this external position is the special assistant of the chairman. The executives personally negotiated the cooperation of mobile phone manufacturers including Huawei.
Ma Dongmin has always stood behind the scenes. During the past retreat from Baidu, she assumed more of the role of Li Yanhong & ldquo; think tank. Li Yanhong has publicly stated that Ma Dongmin will provide a variety of analysis for the various difficulties he has encountered.
When people talk about Ma Dongmin, they will say that she is a talented girl in the junior class of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is the wife of Li Yanhong. But few people know that in Baidu's most turbulent two years, she has mastered the power of speaking and exercising. Together with Li Yanhong and Lu Qi, she once pulled the company's market value back to the position of nearly 100 billion US dollars.
Ma Dongmin returned to Baidu's 880th day, Baidu is still undergoing dramatic personnel changes, and Baidu's market value has once again dropped to tens of billions of dollars. Baidu hopes to get out of the "search for bidding ads" to create a greenhouse, but Baidu's heavy investment in content, whether it can be exchanged for the rapid growth of information flow and short video business, whether the investment company can be linked with Baidu's business, It is now unknown.
But perhaps the core decision maker around Li Yanhong already has the answer.