The Chinese economy has recovered in recent
months, prompting Baidu's customers to spend
more on advertising, Robin Li, the firm's chairman
and chief executive officer, told reporters on the
sidelines of the Boao Forum. "Our data suggests
that the confidence of many consumers and companies
has been picking up rather rapidly since the Spring
Festival," said Li, referring to the start of the Chinese
Lunar New Year, which took place in late January this
year. The comments come after China posted this week
its slowest quarterly growth on record in the first three
months of 2008, while recent urban fixed-asset
investment and industrial output growth showed signs
that the economy may have hit bottom.
There are some 200,000 active online marketing
customers in various sectors running advertisements
on Baidu, most of which have seen encouraging signs of
business after the Spring Festival, Li said. Baidu's fourth
quarter net profit rose to $42.3 million, up 40 percent
from a year earlier, but fell short of Wall Street
expectations. Li also said the company's investment in
its Japanese language website would continue as
scheduled, unchanged by the economic downturn.
"For a market as big as Japan, it requires years of
patience to bear fruits," he said. The company aims to
have 70 percent of total revenue come from overseas
markets in 15 years, Li said.
Li added the focus of Baidu is to better organise resources
available on the Internet, including music files, rather
than becoming a music information provider.