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Baidu

Information ministry warns internet companies over poor business practices

China’s government unit overseeing information services and industrial solutions released regulation violation cases for the first three quarters of 2018. Original Link

Briefing: Baidu partners with Shanghai’s Baoshan District to build a smart city

Baidu is moving fast to apply its AI and autonomous driving researches for pilot testing and commercial uses. Original Link

Briefing: Baidu partners with Shanghai’s Baoshan District to build a smart city

Baidu is moving fast to apply its AI and autonomous driving researches for pilot testing and commercial uses. Original Link

Announcing the latest TechNode podcast: The China Tech Investor podcast

Each week, the two look at their watchlist and talk about what’s happening with listed Chinese tech companies. Original Link

Briefing: Chinese tech giants reportedly suspend social hiring ahead of “internet winter”

Chinese internet tycoons including Alibaba, Baidu, Huawei and JD are reportedly either suspending or cutting off their social recruitment plans due to the unstable market Original Link

Briefing: Baidu leads new funding in NetEase Music

Baidu will be able to integrate content and services from NetEase Music to its smart device operating system DuerOS. Original Link

Sohu TV has filed a RMB 10 million suit against Baidu and Jinri Toutiao over pirated content

Sohu TV is accusing Baidu and Jinri Toutiao of storing and spreading the pirated files of a popular Chinese romantic fantasy drama series. Original Link

Baidu’s autonomous driving technology finds new application in urban cleaning

Joining hands with Chinese tech giant Baidu, Beijing Environmental Equipment Company, a subsidiary of Beijing Environmental Hygiene Group, launched seven autonomous […] Original Link

Briefing: Baidu’s Smart Mini Programs is now accepting applications

Mobile apps including Baidu Tieba, Bilibili, iQiyi, and Kuaishou have joined Baidu’s open-source alliance for mini-programs. Original Link

Two years after student death, search ranking and ad placement is still a problem for Baidu

The current scandal comes two years after the death of Wei Zexi, who died after being treated at an unvetted hospital recommended by Baidu. Original Link

Baidu sets up a blockchain subsidiary Dulian in Hainan

Chinese search engine giant Baidu registered a blockchain company Wednesday in China’s Hainan province. The company is mainly set to […] Original Link

Briefing: Crypto chat blocked on Baidu Tieba

Sub-forums including “数字货币” (shuzi huobi, digital currency) and “虚拟货币” (xuni huobi, virtual currency) appear to have been taken down as well. Original Link

Eight years later, Google Search won’t beat Baidu

There is little chance that Google’s return will change the established scene in China’s search engine sector. Original Link

Baidu’s Robin Li isn’t worried about Google’s rumored return

Baidu CEO Robin Li has said he welcomes the competition and that Baidu would “win again.” Original Link

Chinese tech stocks tumble from more than just trade tensions

The focus has shifted to more than just the trade war: a number of big Chinese tech companies have seen their share prices plummet for other reasons. Original Link

Google to submit to Chinese censorship, report says

Google is preparing to launch a censored version of its search engine for China that will block results Beijing considers sensitive, The Intercept reported. Original Link

Baidu’s ad sales boost revenue

China’s Baidu tops profit, revenue expectations on ad sales growth —Reuters What happened: Baidu’s revenue and profit exceeded expectations as a result of the company’s core ad business. Its net income rose by 45% to RMB 6.4 billion in the second quarter. Ad revenue increased by 25%, reaching RMB 21.1 billion. The company’s total revenue […] Original Link

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler deepens partnership with Baidu

Daimler deepens ties with China’s Baidu on automated driving – TechCrunch

What happened: Baidu and Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, have signed a MoU to deepen their partnership in automated driving and vehicle connectivity services. Under the newly signed agreement, the Daimler will collaborate with specifically with Baidu’s open-source autonomous driving platform, Apollo. The German automaker said it will integrate Baidu’s connectivity services into the Mercedes-Benz’s new in-car infotainment system.

Why it’s important: Chinese internet giant Baidu has evolved into a major player in autonomous driving technology since the launch of the Apollo platform last year. Up until now, the Apollo platform has formed partnerships with 119 companies worldwide. Daimler has been making inroads into China’s self-driving scene. The automaker was granted a license to test self-driving vehicles on public roads in Beijing earlier this month, becoming the first non-Chinese automaker to earn such a license.

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“We want to see Robin Li!” Baidu Waimai agents protest in front of headquarters

“We want to see Robin Li!” Baidu Waimai agents protest in front of headquarters · TechNode

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Another Baidu resignation: AI startup Raven Tech’s founder leaves company

Another Baidu resignation: AI startup Raven Tech’s founder leaves company · TechNode

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Baidu is serious about Apollo’s tech and partnerships

Baidu is serious about Apollo’s tech and partnerships · TechNode

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Vivo NEX users say Baidu is recording their conversations

Vivo NEX users say Baidu is recording their conversations · TechNode

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Baidu sues former high-level research engineer for breaching non-disclosure and non-compete agreements after joining ByteDance

Baidu sues former high-level research engineer for breaching non-disclosure and non-compete agreements after joining ByteDance · TechNode

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Baidu and Ford Motor China sign Letter of Intent for strategic cooperation in mobility innovation

Baidu and Ford Motor China sign Letter of Intent for strategic cooperation in mobility innovation · TechNode

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Baidu considers issuing CDRs

Search giant Baidu said in documents submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it is evaluating the possibility of issuing China Depositary Receipts (CDRs), our sister site is reporting (in Chinese).

In early June, Baidu reportedly selected Huatai Securities and CITIC Securities as sponsors for the issuance of CDRs. Should the move materialize, Baidu may become the first company to return A shares from the Nasdaq through the CDR process.

China’s depositary receipts are a way to bring foreign-listed Chinese companies back home by allowing those living domestically to invest in them. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) adopted a set of draft rules in early June. The regulations provide an “institutional foundation” for domestic companies issuing CDRs in the Chinese market.

However, Baidu has not been the only company to show interest in CDRs. Alibaba and Baidu have also entertained ideas about listing locally.

Most recently, Xiaomi showed its intent to issue CDRs. On June 8, the company completed its filing ahead of its Hong Kong IPO. However, the smartphone maker abruptly postponed its plans after the review process had been scheduled. At the time it said it would only issue CDRs after its initial public offering.  In a final blow, it said that there is no timeframe in which the process would be completed.

The speed at which Xiaomi’s CDR application was accepted and scheduled for review—less than two weeks—highlights the government’s resolve in trading these companies domestically. Additionally, in April, biotech company WuXi AppTech’s request to relist in Shanghai was approved in just seven weeks. The rapid pace at which China hopes to list high profile companies may be a sign of competition between exchanges at home and abroad.

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based technology reporter. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.

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Bytedance files RMB 10 million lawsuit against Baidu for unfair competition

Bytedance files RMB 10 million lawsuit against Baidu for unfair competition · TechNode

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China Tech Talk 50: The best of China Tech Talk’s first year, part 1

China Tech Talk 50: The best of China Tech Talk’s first year, part 1 · TechNode

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The siege of Douyin

Blocks, viral videos, accusations, and lawsuits: controversies surrounding short video sites in China continue to mount. The protagonists? Toutiao’s Douyin and Tencent’s WeChat.

A post dated May 22 on Douyin’s public WeChat account, “Sorry, Douyin fans”, accused Tencent of discrimination by taking down a lot of individual “healthy” video posts, while simultaneously accusing the company of itself hosting vulgar content. Tencent PR replied sarcastically with: “All bow down to the next drama queen, Douyin.”

Soon after, Douyin CEO Zhang Nan took to WeChat moments to accuse Tencent of being “monopolist and manipulative, exploiting its market position and channels to obstruct users and damage the user experience.” He wrote it was “really beneath them, and has wiped out all the respect I’ve built up for them over the years.”

Since then both companies have taken the spat to court.

Video Sensations

Looking at the big picture, this isn’t the first time WeChat and Douyin have got into scrapes, and it clearly won’t be the last. In just two years, the list of companies with a grievance against Toutiao has gotten extremely long. To give just a few examples:

  • August 10, 2017 – Weibo claimed that a third party platform had directly fetched content from Weibo accounts without the company’s knowledge or authorization. Due to the serious nature of this infraction, Weibo suspended the platform’s interface. This “third-party news platform” was indeed Toutiao.
  • March 8, 2018 – It appeared that WeChat moments were not showing Douyin content, and indeed for a period of time, Douyin content was blocked to other viewers.
  • Evening, March 10, 2018 – some Douyin users found that forwarded Douyin links on WeChat would not appear on their individual pages or news feeds and were only visible to themselves. One user cut to the chase, “Douyin had been blocked on WeChat.”
  • April 11 – On the grounds of “cleaning up” short videos, Tencent instructed QQ and WeChat to stop displaying Toutiao videos.
  • May 14 – A post on Q&A platform Zhihu, “Toutiao and the Trojan Horse,” led to Toutiao suing Zhihu and the post’s author for RMB 1 million in reputational damages. Coming down from the brink, Toutiao accepted an apology and withdrew its claim.
  • May 15 – Weibo penalized Xiaomi, Douyin and other sites for “data skimming” search optimization tactics.
  • Toutiao sued Baidu for its subsidiary Haokan Video’s unauthorized use of the copyrighted program, Yiguohui.
  • May 18 – WeChat officially announced an upgrade to its redirect chain management rules, insisting that partners without audiovisual licenses would not be allowed to post video content to WeChat. According to incomplete data, at least 21 products have been affected. News of the “blocking of Toutiao” spread fast. On May 21, WeChat announced the terms of its “immediate deletion” campaign, and said that the platform and developers would continue to seek a solution to manage the sector better for all.
  • June 1 – Tencent files RMB 1 lawsuit against Bytedance (parent of Toutiao and Douyin) for unfair competition
  • June 2 – Toutiao fires back with RMB 90 million suit for anti-competitive practices.

As Toutiao grows, and Douyin continues to rise, such competition and friction will only increase.

Tencent’s Counterattack

A 3 billion RMB incentive system, a team of celebrity influencers, QQ social sharing and a “Produce 101” music reality show have all drawn in new users. When the whirlwind Tencent makes a move these days, its offensives are massive in terms of both influence and content.

Tencent’s advantage is traffic, and CEO Pony Ma is in the position to hand out slices of the pie. By the time Weishi was launched, Tencent had already opened QQ, QQ Space, WeChat, Tencent News, Kuaibao and other products, all drawing in heavy traffic. Weishi’s official account pushes content to certain QQ users every day. Some say that the young average age of Weishi’s users is due to its success in attracting QQ users.

Despite the power wielded by traffic giant WeChat, Tencent has insisted on fair treatment, but it is hard to imagine Tencent will not give preference to its own offspring. Given recent regulatory hurdles, strictly speaking, Tencent’s shutting down of short video sharing has complied with regulations. But it has also helped Tencent contain its rivals while cultivating its own video platform, Weishi.

Tencent then went one step further, publishing stringent rules for “upgrading its redirect chain management system.” This means WeChat will only permit content that has an official Information and Video Distribution License issued under Information Network law. Many short video platforms are affected by this regulation, including Douyin, Volcano, Xigua, and Miaopai. On the grounds that it is too sweeping and controversial, Tencent withdrew the rules and said it would work with developers on how to manage quality and compliance in video content sharing.

Attention-grabbing techniques have also came into play in the quest for traffic volume. Online idol Huang Zitao became Tencent Weishi’s first celebrity recruit, and on May 20, (China’s online Valentine’s day), Jason Zhang followed suit. Tencent Video then launched its authorized take on Korean reality show “Produce 101”, in which 101 women compete for places in a girl band. This all took place on Weishi with a new hot function – a voting mechanism.

On the content side, Tencent has developed an open source content pool. Its Penguin Platform draws Weishi closer into the Tencent content family, enabling simultaneous posts on multiple platforms, including WeChat official accounts, Weishi, and Kuaibao.

Tencent is also working to attract high-quality, talented content producers, using generous cash incentives as a lure. This has involved a strict offline screening mechanism and collaboration on content with original short video producers and MCN sites worldwide. Content developers and groups have been offered attractive bonuses.

Media reports about the RMB 3 billion incentive plan suggest Tencent will hand out large rewards to Weishi premium content producers between April and August this year. Three levels of bonuses will be on offer: S-class at RMB 1,500/post, A-class at RMB 500/post, and B-class at RMB 140/post.

For many short video entrepreneurs, this kind of bonus hits the spot, and there is the feeling that now is the time to get on board. Many Douyin idols on Star TV have opened Weishi accounts. Live-streamers have also begun shifting to Weishi. These incentives have been enough for many to achieve profitability. Weishi is still looking out for commercial partners and agents, to bring in even more hot personalities and trends.

What about user-generated content (UGC)?

Tencent’s inspiration here comes from WeChat Moments. On May 21, WeChat on Android pushed a 6.6.7 beta version to users. One new feature was WeChat authorized users who were logged into Weishi would be able to post videos automatically, and WeChat videos would be shown directly on their Weishi account. WeChat later said it had not intended to go public with this function just yet.

Behind Tencent’s big maneuvers has been the increasingly important position of Weishi inside Tencent – not just its short video products but more importantly its role as a content matrix distributed by Tencent. In Tencent’s 2018 Q1 financial report, Weishi was specifically mentioned, along with user content and Tencent’s digital data library. Weishi content can also be distributed through vertical information streams such as mobile QQ browsers.

Tencent’s President Liu Chiping said during a conference call that the company would invest heavily in Weishi and had full confidence in its prospects.

In just over a month, applications for Weishi public and group accounts have rocketed.

According to the app download ranking by Qimai, April and May 2018 saw a leap in Weishi app downloads. In the short video download list, it ranked second after Douyin. Weishi was used on 3.37 million unique devices in April, according to iResearch. Currently ranked 16th in short video, prospects are good, with a clear upward trend. Kuaishou and Douyin are however still racing far ahead.

A Storm of Giants

As Tencent races on, other giants are rounding the bend. First, we had Weishi’s talent subsidies. Then Nani micro video, a project of Baidu Tieba’s incubator, used a combination of Baidu-driven traffic and enticing incentives to set off a subsidy war. With salaries and bonuses similar to those of Douyin and Weishi, super users who post six or more top picks receive an “S-class” base salary of RMB 5,500. On May 11, Taobao Short Video held an internal press conference, announcing the launch of a short video app called Social Beta, understood to benchmark Douyin. Weibo announced an RMB 500 million investment, and an ambitious aim of creating a user base of 1,000 users with over a million fans, further enriching the short video content ecology.

Nani micro video was only born in December 2017. It supports short videos of up to 15 seconds long and includes stickers and beautification features. The style is very similar to Musical.ly, Douyin, and Weishi. Nani is said to be welcoming “strategic” support from within the Baidu system. It is reported that Baidu will not use Nani as a strategic product at least for now, and internal sources said that in June other apps will be launched in a similar vein to Douyin.

Also in the exploratory phase is Alibaba. Taobao’s short video press conference aside, where it has announced the launch of its own short video app, “Social Beta,” benchmarking Douyin, in March, Tudou.com announced it would spend RMB 2 billion transitioning to short video, ploughing further money into the sector.

When it isn’t busy blocking Douyin links, Weibo is also investing in short video. RMB 500 million has been put into its “million fan stories”, while it also quietly develops short video site Yixia. Faced with the Douyin offensive, the star who once controlled the short video field appears to be treading water. In April last year, Huangka, its music short video platform, launched as a stand-alone app. However, soon after, Huangka was shuttered as an independent app, leaving the scene on tiptoes. Yixia staff revealed to Technode the not inconsiderable pressure Yixia was facing. It is currently in testing mode, and more will come out with new products in June or July.

As you can see, given this storm of interest, no one wants to lag behind. According to statistics, high levels of investment and financing were still going into China’s short video industry in 2017, with a total of 91 targets and a total spend of RMB 5.4 billion. The China Internet Copyright Industry Development Report (2018) published by the National Copyright Administration’s Network Copyright Industry Research Base on April 23 shows that in 2017, live streaming was worth nearly RMB 40 billion. Short video grew rapidly to more than 410 million users, an increase of 115% YoY. The outflow of user traffic and advertising value in the short video market is expected to reach RMB 35 billion by 2020.

However, in this fiercely competitive market, even if the user scale has expanded rapidly, the industry needs to shake down some more. We may recall the boom in live/short video platforms two or three years ago. Hundreds of live-streaming apps came in with the tide of capital, only to later retreat. Content duplication and worryingly poor quality outputs are still major weak points in the industry. The more lively the market, the more obvious this becomes. This trend will continue in the near future as more and more similar short video apps appear on the horizon, right up until there is a wave of consolidation.

—Translated by Heather Mowbray

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Qualcomm opening an AI lab in Beijing, joining hands with Baidu’s PaddlePaddle

Qualcomm opening an AI lab in Beijing, joining hands with Baidu’s PaddlePaddle · TechNode

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Baidu COO Lu Qi resigns

Baidu Chief Operating Officer (COO) Lu Qi has resigned, and will no longer fill his current position after July 2018.

The company announced that Lu would continue to serve as vice-chairman of its board of directors. Lu said that he would no longer be able to work full-time in Beijing due to personal and family reasons. He said he is planning to spend more time with his family in the US.

“For my next steps, I plan to work in research and investment areas, to help advance our shared mission to make a complex world simpler through technology,” he said in a statement.

Lu was appointed to his position at Baidu in January 2017. Baidu CEO Robin Li said that Lu’s contributions to the company had allowed him to focus on the company’s strategic course. Prior to joining the company, he worked at Microsoft and Yahoo.

While Lu is leaving the company, Baidu announced that Wang Haifeng had been promoted to senior vice president and general manager of Baidu’s AI Group (AIG). Wang has been with Baidu for eight years and became a vice-president in 2013. He will oversee the company’s efforts in machine learning, big data, computer vision, natural language processing, speech technology, knowledge graph, robotics and augmented reality.

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based technology reporter. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.

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Bytedance goes on a lawsuit spree, sues both Tencent and Baidu on same day

Bytedance goes on a lawsuit spree, sues both Tencent and Baidu on same day · TechNode

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Baidu’s Robin Li marks Peking University’s 120th anniversary

Baidu’s Robin Li marks Peking University’s 120th anniversary · TechNode

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Baidu’s autonomous cars have to be taken over by humans every 41 miles

Baidu’s autonomous cars have to be taken over by humans every 41 miles · TechNode

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Improving technology is the foundation of online education: Hou Jianbin, CEO of Zuoyebang

Technology advancement is the foundation of online education

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Tencent and Baidu make strides into already-crowded short video market

Tencent and Baidu make strides into already-crowded short video market · TechNode

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Beijing gives Baidu licenses to road test driverless cars



Beijing gives Baidu licenses to road test driverless cars · TechNode


























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Baidu invests RMB 1.1 billion into smart TV which will integrate DuerOS



Baidu invests RMB 1.1 billion into smart TV which will integrate DuerOS · TechNode


























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After CryptoKitties announce landing in China, Baidu launches cryptodoggies



After CryptoKitties announce landing in China, Baidu launches cryptodoggies · TechNode
























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Toutiao is suing Baidu for unfair competition after (alleged) biased search results and security warning



Toutiao is suing Baidu for unfair competition after (alleged) biased search results and security warning · TechNode























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Baidu plugs AI talent gap with 3 senior AI hires in the US, opens new AI labs



Baidu plugs AI talent gap with 3 senior AI hires in the US, opens new AI labs · TechNode





















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