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Baidu Talks Up its Transition Towards Artificial Intelligence

by Ed Lauder
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Baidu took the time in its first-quarter earnings statement to highlight its move towards AI as it reports a drop in profits.

Baidu’s been going difficult times of late. In March, their Head of AI, Andrew Ng, announced that he was leaving the company to concentrate on other AI-related projects.

Yesterday, Baidu released its first-quarter earnings statement, in which they reported a drop in profits, yet it also pointed out their shift towards AI was starting to “bear fruit”, according to Baidu’s chairman and chief executive, Robin Li. He went on to describe their performance this quarter as “solid”, despite the drop in profits.

The statement also announced that Jennifer Li would be stepping down as CFO and is going on to help start Baidu Capital, their new investment group, and take on the role as its Chief Executive.

“In the quarters ahead, we will intensify our efforts in applying AI to improve existing products and to accelerate the development of AI-enabled new business initiatives,” Qi Lu, Baidu’s vice-chairman announced.

Baidu reported that their operating profit fell 9.3% to $290m, and net income fell 10.6% to Rmb1.78bn ($258m) in the first quarter of 2017.

However, Baidu did experience a 6.8% increase in total revenues compare to this time last year, with mobile accounting for 70% of that. Last year, mobile accounted 60% of total revenue.

However, Baidu is estimated to generate a total revenue income of Rmb20.9bn in the second quarter, which would represent an increase of between 12.1 and 14.9% year-on-year.

This week, Baidu’s online streaming platform iQiyi signed a contract with Netflix, which means that Chinese audiences will be able to watch the US company’s original TV shows such as Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black, as well as their movies and documentaries, via the Chinese site.

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