13 Baidu Statistics for When You Just Don’t Want to Google Anymore
Updated · May 20, 2023
It’s nothing special, only one of the biggest internet and AI companies in the world.
In all seriousness, though, Baidu is the whole package.
Besides a massive search engine, the company offers a large online encyclopedia, cloud storage services, maps, and communication platforms.
Learning more about it through the most intriguing Baidu statistics will help you learn more about the internet use in China and, perhaps, Chinese society as a whole.
Fascinating Baidu Statistics (Editor’s Choice):
- Baidu has a 0.59% share of the global search engine market.
- But the company dominates the Chinese search engine market with an 85% share.
- Baidu has 218 million daily users.
- 97.3% of Baidu users live in China.
- The company employs 45,000 people.
- Baidu apps leaked data of six million US users in 2020.
- In 2021, Baidu generated around $20 billion.
- Baidu reached its top market value ($106 billion) in February 2021.
- In 2022, Baidu introduced autonomous taxis to the streets of Shenzhen.
The Showdown: Baidu vs. Google
Baidu is mostly known for its eponymous search engine.
Robin Li and Eric Xu—who are the Chinese equivalents of Bill Gates or Larry Page—founded it back in 1999.
But that’s not where the similarities between the two companies end.
Let’s see what else they have in common.
1. Baidu has over 45,000 employees.
Is Baidu or Google bigger?
Google. It—or, technically, Alphabet, its parent company—has around 156,000 employees.
Baidu, on the other hand, has 27,500 people on its R&D team, 9,800 employees working on sales and marketing, 5,100 workers running operations and service, and 3,100 people doing management and administration.
So, all in all, Baidu’s entire operation relies on the hard work of 45,500 people—which is less than a third of Alphabet’s headcount.
2. 97.3% of Baidu search engine users are situated in China.
What about the remaining 2.7%?
Well, 0.8% are in the US and 0.6% in Japan. The rest are possibly situated in countries with sizable Chinese communities, such as Singapore and the Philippines.
Moreover, most traffic comes from mobile apps. PCs aren’t all that popular in China (there are about 50 computers per 100 households), so IT companies tend to focus on mobile apps.
Fun fact: There are one billion Chinese internet users, which, although a very impressive number, only represents a 73% penetration rate in the Asian country. For comparison, 93% of the US population has internet access.
3. The Baidu search engine app has around 218 million users per day.
This number has been steadily increasing for the past few years. Back in 2018, there were about 150 million daily active users. By 2019, the average was closer to 190 million, and in the first quarter of 2020, it peaked at 222 million.
The reason behind this sharp increase is perhaps the breakout of COVID-19 in China. After all, what is Baidu if not a place where people could frantically search for information about the new virus?
The DAU count has remained above 200 million ever since.
4. Baidu’s share in the Chinese search engine market is 79.49%.
Another stat shows just how big Baidu is in China. Other popular search engines in China are Bing (8.77%), Sogou (4.22%), and Google (3.02%).
That said, things look very different in the global market. There, Google is the absolute winner, taking an 85.5% share. Next, come Bing (7.6%) and Yahoo! (2.85%), leaving only a 0.59% share for Baidu.
Fun fact: Search engines direct 93% of web traffic.
5. In April 2022, the Chinese government allowed Baidu Apollo Go on the streets.
Baidu self-driving cars were allowed in some Chinese cities before, but up until now, a human assistant driver was obligatory. The new legislation still makes it obligatory for a human to be in an autonomous car, but not necessarily in the driver’s seat. This is one of the last moves toward total automatization of driving.
Baidu now has 10 driverless cars, and there’s a plan to add 30 more, although the date for this has yet to be disclosed.
Fun fact: By 2020, Waymo (Alphabet’s self-driving project) had been roaming around 25 cities, accumulating a total of 20 million miles.
Not everything is about money but let’s be honest, a lot of it is.
So, let’s take a look at Baidu’s financials.
6. In 2021, Baidu cashed in $19.5 billion.
According to Baidu’s income statement, the year 2021 was very productive and profitable for the company.
A quarter of the company’s total revenue came from iQIYI (Baidu’s online video platform), but most of the rest ($11.6 billion) comes from online marketing revenue.
The remaining $3.33 billion are due to Baidu’s various AI projects, including its cloud solutions. This area was actually the one that saw a bigger year-over.year increase (71%).
Baidu’s advertising segment, on the other hand, grew only 12% from 2020—even if it is responsible for 76% of the company’s core revenue.
7. There are more than 100 million subscribers to Baidu’s iQIYI.
Ever since COVID-19 hit and lockdowns were enforced, the popularity of Baidu’s version of Netflix (iQIYI) surpassed the 100 million mark.
Baidu user statistics show that back in 2017, there were only 50.8 million subscribers. A year later, the count had gone up to 87.4 million, and by the end of 2019, it had reached an all-time high of 106.9 million subscribers.
8. Baidu started working on cloud computing in 2012.
Baidu’s first cloud center (or Wangpan) was built in Yangquan, in the Shanxi province. The choice of location is interesting because the city is far away from the tech powerhouses such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong.
Baidu Cloud has become increasingly popular. Back in 2018, it only generated ¥3 billion; a year later, that number had doubled. By the end of 2021, Baidu was bringing in ¥15.1 billion (which is around $2 billion) in annual revenue from cloud storage services alone.
9. Baidu reached its top market valuation to date in February 2021.
(Source: Companies Market Cap)
The company struggled through the beginning of the pandemic. Baidu’s market cap dropped to $34.7 billion in March 2020 and reached $49.1 billion in December 2021, right before skyrocketing past pre-pandemic levels and finally hitting $106 billion in February 2021.
Since then, the numbers have been dropping. As of May 2022, Baidu’s stock price is around $120, which means its market cap is approximately $43 billion. This is presumably a consequence of China’s anti-capitalistic regulation of big tech companies like Baidu or Alibaba.
Is Baidu Safe?
Some people in the West might be afraid that if they use Baidu, the Chinese government might monitor them.
Is this a real concern, though?
10. Baidu’s facial recognition cameras can check more than 200 people per minute.
(Source: Atlantic Council)
The Qinghe Beijing railway station, for instance, uses Baidu’s facial recognition technology (FRT) to identify who is using the facilities.
Fun fact: The use of FRT is controversial. Some countries (like Belgium and Luxembourg) have outright prohibited it, whereas others use it extensively: The US uses it in airports, the UK employs it in school canteens, and China has been known to use it even to shame pajama-use in public.
11. Baidu has a communist party committee.
(Source: Financial Review)
The history of Baidu is akin to that of other big Chinese companies—conceived and brought up during the reigns of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao (roughly from 1989 to 2013), Chinese tech giants enjoyed greater freedoms.
Their links to the ruling party, even though strong, weren’t that big of a deal because in the pre-Xi Jinping era the economy was more important than ideology. Since 2013, though, the ideology bit has become crucial once again.
In this context, one of the least surprising facts about Baidu is that it has a CCP committee, which makes sure that everything’s in line with the “Xi Jinping Thought."
12. If requested, Baidu has to surrender data to CCP.
Back in 2016, Canadian researchers noted data leaking issues of Baidu and all related apps. The leak is not only a consequence of poor programming and a lack of appropriate encryption, Baidu is also intentionally (if “occasionally”) sharing data both with the CCP and commercial partners.
Should this worry you if you’re using Baidu?
Is Baidu reliable?
As you’ve probably realized by now, it is not reliable in the sense of data privacy. In fact, in 2020, both the Baidu App and Baidu Maps were banned from the Google Play Store due to some violations of users’ privacy, which potentially affected six million US netizens.
Then again, US companies have also disclosed private data to the government time and again.
Fun fact: Only 54% of Chinese people believe that privacy breach is a serious problem.
13. There are more than two million internet monitors in China.
Baidu cannot automatically ban all politically incorrect content (this has an entirely different meaning in China). So, the government employs more than two million people to manually scan the internet and flag inappropriate content.
Why do people still use Baidu if it’s so monitored?
Because people in China have limited choices.
Yes, they can use VPNs—as long as they’re approved by the government. When Chinese citizens use a (non-approved) VPN in China, they can get into serious trouble (like years-of-prison-time serious).
Baidu plays a pretty big role in China’s artificial intelligence projects, robotics, facial-recognition cameras, and many other tech fields. So the answer to “What is Baidu?” may not always be as straightforward as you think.
That said, privacy concerns regarding Baidu are no trivial matter. Whether or not you are one of the search engine’s regular users, taking precautions with your identity and overall safety online is a good idea.
We’ll just have to wait and see what other innovative ideas Baidu has lined up for the years to come.
Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.