Robin Li
Imaginechina via AP Images



Co-Founder / Chairman / CEO

With a master’s degree in technology and a search engine patent in his pocket, Robin Li (aka Li Yanhong) co-founded Baidu in 2000. For some, that date represents the collapse of the Dotcom Bubble, but Li’s timing was perfect. In China, the Internet was just taking off, and Baidu quickly established itself as the search engine of choice for hundreds of millions of Chinese web users. China’s web space is a tough mix of fast-moving capitalist forces tossed together with authoritarian government regulation. To succeed, constant innovation is a must.

Under Li, Baidu has diversified into everything from encyclopedias to maps and music. In 2010 it unleashed iQIYI (previously Qiyi) to become one of the front runners in streaming video. Although Li’s appetite for U.S. investment is less gluttonous than other Middle Kingdom moguls, iQIYI and Baidu are key Chinese partners for Hollywood studios, leading independents, sports franchises and music labels. It also makes its own movies and TV originals, helping iQIYI pioneer the route to subscription content in the world’s most populous nation.

Baidu and rivals Alibaba and Tencent have pulled so far ahead of the field in the Chinese tech sector that they are collectively described as BAT, an acronym known to every executive in China’s entertainment industry.


  • Baidu
  • New Oriental Education & Technology Group


  • Peking University (China)
  • State University of New York at Buffalo (NY, USA)

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