The creation of the Chinese equivalent of Hulu is now officially underway. Providence Equity Partners, which invested $100 million in the original American video site, will give Baidu $50 million to create Qiyi.com. Qiyi should similarly offer premium content and rely on ad revenue.
Qiyi will indeed be a completely by-the-book operation, judging from an “About Us” section that’s in English. It explained, “Qiyi will strictly abide by copyright laws and administrative regulations, to take copyright protection measures to protect the legitimate rights and interests of copyright holders.”
Then another paragraph later added, “Qiyi keeps making efforts . . . to spread the advanced socialism culture by undertaking its social responsibility as an outstanding corporate citizen. Qiyi is playing a positive role in developing a harmonious society.”
Unfortunately, not a lot else is known about the project. The site’s official launch date hasn’t been publicized, and other details (relating to advertisers’ identities, hours of content available, and so forth) are also unavailable.
One important thing that’s been made clear, at least, is the fact that Baidu will retain majority ownership in Qiyi despite Providence’s large investment.
It appears that not all is well (or at least normal) at Baidu. Last week, the company’s COO abruptly resigned, and today, its CTO followed suit. Both men cited “personal reasons” for their departures, and Baidu’s made little other information available.
Either exit might have been considered unremarkable on its own. The COO, Peng Ye, left before Google made its big statement about China, and also before hackers attacked Baidu, so “personal reasons” sounded like a semi-plausible explanation.
As for the CTO, Yinan Li, he could have gotten a pass if his colleague hadn’t left so recently.
It’s the combination of the two departures that makes for such an odd situation. And the curt way in which Baidu’s announced everything is also suspicious, with the press release about Peng Ye and his replacements consisting of about 180 words, and the release concerning Yinan Li hitting just over 50.
Still, Baidu hasn’t badmouthed its former execs. Robin Li, Baidu’s CEO, stated, “We appreciate all that Yinan has contributed to Baidu and we wish him every success in his future endeavors.”
Finally, it’s important to note that investors don’t seem worried. In fact, they’ve sent Baidu’s stock up 0.74 percent so far today, even as the Dow and Nasdaq are down 0.94 and 1.24 percent, respectively.