Baidu practically owns search in China, controlling nearly 80% of the sector. Its closest competitor, Sogou, holds just 11%. There’s just one problem: web search isn’t the cash cow it used to be, and Chinese internet users now spend more time in apps.

Advertising revenue is the primary source of income for search companies, and Baidu’s ad business has seen growth slow to a crawl over the past few years, with a few quarterly exceptions. The AI giant has been hamstrung by the decline of web search, rising competition from rivals like ByteDance and Alibaba, and accusations of bad behavior like prioritizing its own search results and allowing ads for questionable medical treatments. 

The company is trying a full-blown pivot, even telling people it’s no longer a search company. The story it’s telling now is about AI.

Start your free trial now.

Get instant access to all our premium content, archives, newsletters, and online community.

Monthly Membership

Yearly Membership

What you get

Full access to all premium content and our full archives

Members'-only newsletters

Preferential access and discounts to all TechNode events

Direct access to the TechNode newsroom

Start your free trial now.

Get instant access to all our premium content, archives, newsletters, and online community.

Monthly Membership

Yearly Membership

Chris Udemans

Christopher Udemans is TechNode's former Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covered Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, cleantech, and cybersecurity.