May 11, 2016

    Baidu CEO urges values first in wake of death


    BAIDU'S CEO asked employees to put values before profit in response to a scandal around the death of a student who underwent an experimental cancer treatment he found using its search website.

    Before his death, student Wei Zexi, 21, criticised the military-run hospital that provided the treatment for misleading claims about its effectiveness. He also accused Baidu, which controls 80 per cent of the Chinese search market, of promoting false medical information.

    In a letter to employees seen by Reuters, Baidu chief executive Robin Li wrote: "If we lose the support of users, we lose hold of our values and Baidu will truly go bankrupt in just 30 days!"

    His letter said employees were making compromises for the sake of commercial interests and placing earnings growth above user experience.

    The controversy over Mr Wei's death prompted regulators on Monday to impose curbs on the advertising business Baidu relies on for much of its income.

    Baidu said it would comply with the regulators' decision which followed a probe launched early last week.

    The company will re-evaluate every one of its products' business models, despite the fact it may have a negative impact on its income, Mr Li wrote.

    Baidu has been fiercely criticised both online and by state media for how it handles ads within its search results, especially in the sensitive healthcare sector.