Baidu beats estimates on strong video streaming growth – gpgmail


Chinese technology group Baidu on Monday posted a revenue of 26.33 billion yuan ($3.73 billion) for the quarter that ended in June, beating analysts’ estimates of 25.77 billion yuan ($3.65 billion) as its video streaming service iQiyi continues to see strong growth. The 19-year-old firm’s shares were up more than 9% in extended trading.

The company, which is often called the Google of China, said revenue of its core businesses grew 12% since the same period last year “despite the weak macro environment, our self-directed healthcare initiative, industry-specific policy changes and large influx of ad inventory.”

Net income for the second quarter dropped to 2.41 billion yuan ($344 million).

“With Baidu traffic growing robustly and our mobile ecosystem continuing to expand, we are in a good position to focus on capitalizing monetization and ROI improvement opportunities to deliver shareholder value,” Herman Yu, CFO of Baidu, said in a statement.

Today’s results for Baidu, which has been struggling of late, should help calm investors’ worries. In recent years, as users move from desktop to mobile and rivals such as ByteDance win hundreds of millions of users through their mobile apps, many have cast serious doubts on Baidu’s ability to maintain its growth and hold onto its grip on advertising business. (On desktop, Baidu continues to command more than three quarters of the Chinese market share.)

In the quarter that ended in March this year, Baidu posted its first quarterly loss since 2015, the year it went public.

Baidu’s shares were trading at about $114 in extended hours, pushing its market cap to about $40 billion — still less than half of its roughly $100 billion in mid-May last year. (Baidu is no longer among the top five Chinese internet companies because of the alarming shrinkage in its market cap.)

Robin Li, Baidu co-founder and CEO, said Baidu’s app was being used by 188 million users everyday, up 27% from the same period last year. “In-app search queries grew over 20% year over year and smart mini program MAUs reached 270 million, up 49% sequentially,” he added.

Baidu’s video streaming service iQiyi has amassed 100.5 million subscribers, up from about 87 million late last year and 50 million in late 2017. Revenue from iQiyi stood at 7.11 billion yuan ($1.01 billion), up 15% since last year.

iQiyi inked a deal with Netflix in 2017, which does not operate in China, to cross-license portions of one another’s content. But the partnership has since ended because the “results weren’t as good as iQiyi had expected,” a company top executive said earlier this year. iQiyi continues to maintain its relationship with all six of the major local movie studios.

“On Baidu’s AI businesses, DuerOS voice assistant continues to experience strong momentum with installed base surpassing 400 million devices, up 4.5 fold year over year, and monthly voice queries surpassing 3.6 billion, up 7.5 fold year over year, in June. As mobile internet penetration in China slows, we are excited about the huge opportunity to provide content and service providers a cross-platform distribution channel beyond mobile, into smart homes and automobiles,” he added.

Revenue from online marketing services, which makes a significant contribution to overall sales, fell about 9%, to 19.2 billion yuan ($2.72 billion).

Baidu said it expects its overall revenue for the current quarter to be between 26.9 billion yuan to 28.5 billion yuan ($3.81 billion to $4.04 billion).


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ByteDance launches a new search portal that returns a mix of results from the Web and its own platforms – gpgmail


ByteDance has taken another step into search with the launch of a new search portal today. Called Toutiao Search, the portal is part of the website for Toutiao, the news aggregator owned by ByteDance, and currently optimized only for mobile.

Though it is part of Toutiao’s website, the portal is separate from the Toutiao’s own search function, which lets users look for news articles and topics within the app. Toutiao Search brings up results from the Web, but like other search engines in China, the results are censored. For example, a search for “Hong Kong,” where large pro-democracy demonstrations are currently taking place, show only results from state-approved media outlets or ByteDance’s own services, like Xigua Video, Douyin (its domestic version of TikTok) or Toutiao.

Searches for less contentious topics like “restaurant” also return a similar mix of web results and media from ByteDance apps. This means the company’s entrance into the search business not only sets it up as a new competitor to Baidu, which currently holds 76% of the search engine market, Sogou, Bing and 360, but will also help ByteDance drive traffic to all of its platforms. Google’s efforts to re-enter the Chinese market stalled when employees protested against the development of a censored search engine last year.

gpgmail’s Manish Singh reported earlier this month that ByteDance, currently the most highly-valued tech startup in the world, has already hired people from other search companies, including Google, Baidu, Bing and 360. A recruiting post published earlier this month on ByteDance’s WeChat account was the company’s first public announcement that it is building a “universal search engine.”

gpgmail has contacted ByteDance for more information about the new search portal.


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