Baidu is experiencing yet another high-profile exit with Wang Lu, the company’s vice president who was in charge of public and government relations functions, stepping down from the Chinese internet company.
Baidu has witnessed a series of departures since early 2019.
Wang, who joined Baidu in September 2016 as a member of the company’s top decision-making team known as “E-staff,” is serving his last day at Baidu before China enters into a seven-day holiday, commemorating the country’s establishment on October 1.
The vice president decided to resign from Baidu only two to three months ago, but he has been absent from any public relations-related affairs for the past one year.
The duty was handed over to Yuan Foyu, the former marketing general manager of Chinese internet company NetEase, when she joined Baidu in July 2018, according to a report released by Chinese online publication LatePost, citing sources close to Baidu’s management.
While Wang could not be reached for comments, an email sent to Baidu seeking comments did not elicit any response.
There were early signs of Wang’s resignation when iQiyi, a Nasdaq-listed video streaming platform in which Baidu holds 58 per cent shares, announced on September 27 changes to its board composition with Shen Dou, senior vice president of Baidu, being appointed as a director of the board replacing Wang.
Wang, who previously led Baidu’s smart city project in 2018, might see the smart city business being merged with the Smart Cloud unit, while its transportation-related part is being taken over by the company’s Intelligent Driving department. Wang will join a USD-denominated fund to serve as its China head, said sources, cited in the above report.
Prior to Baidu, Wang worked as the president and CEO of Walmart Global eCommerce in Asia and led the acquisition of Chinese online grocery business Yihaodian. Before Walmart, Wang was a global vice president and president in China at CBS Interactive. He has also held roles at American media websiteCNET and global digital-media firm Ziff Davis.
The departure of Wang comes as the Chinese largest search engine operator has experienced a string of executive reshuffles this year, including the resignation of Xiang Hailong, who previously served as a senior vice president and was one of the closest lieutenants of the company founder and CEO Robin Li Yanhong.
Xiang resigned for “personal reasons” after 14 years with Baidu, the company said in an announcement in May 2019. Xiang revealed in a recent interview that he is aiming to raise 200 million yuan ($28.04million) for an RMB-denominated fund to make angel investments in China.
Even as Baidu remains as the largest search service in China with a 76.69% market share per data from research platform StatCounter, its market capitalization has dropped to $35.28 billion after it unveiled the troubled first-quarter financials in May 2019.
The market capitalization ranked Baidu – which was among the three largest internet companies in China – after Alibaba, Tencent, Hong Kong-listed group buying platform Meituan-Dianping, e-commerce major JD.com and social commerce major Pinduoduo.
The company recorded a net loss attributable to shareholders of $49 million in the first quarter of 2019, marking the first quarterly loss since it went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange in 2005.