At 4:58pm Eastern Time on July 12th 2005, the SEC accepted Baidu's preliminary IPO prospectus and posted it on the SEC's EDGAR website.
According to a survey conducted by Shanghai iResearch Co., Ltd. (iResearch), Baidu.com Inc. is China's market share search engine leader.
Reuters and Dow Jones reported that the Chinese language Internet search provider is planning an initial public offering of as much as $80 million in Class A ordinary shares.
Baidu (pronounced "Buy Do" in English) is selling American Depositary Shares (ADS). One ADS represents one ordinary share.
Details about the number of ADSs to be offered and estimated price range for the IPO were not disclosed in the filing.
Dow Jones stated that the eventual price terms of an IPO often differ substantially from the valuation in the first registration.
Baidu's IPO will be the first for a pure-play Chinese search engine company.
Based in Beijing, The People's Republic of China, the company plans to list its stock with NASDAQ under the symbol "BIDU".
In Chinese, Baidu means "a hundred times". Baidu takes its name from a 12th-century Song dynasty poem about searching for a beautiful woman amidst the teeming masses.
Baidu's IPO prospectus states that Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC, Credit Suisse First Boston and Piper Jaffray are the company's underwriters.
The Larry Page & Sergey Brin of China
Baidu.com, Inc.'s co-founder, Chairman & CEO is thirty-six year-old Robin Yanhong Li. According to his company's prospectus, Li currently owns 25.8% of Baidu stock.
Robin Li, Baidu.com Inc.'s Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO
Li has served as Baidu's Chairman of the Board since the company's inception in January 2000 and as its Chief Executive Officer since January 2004.
Li also served as Baidu's President from February 2000 to December 2003.
Prior to founding Baidu, Mr. Li worked as a staff engineer for Infoseek, a pioneer in the Internet search engine industry, from July 1997 to December 1999.
Mr. Li was a senior consultant for IDD Information Services from May 1994 to June 1997 during which time he received a patent related to a search engine technology which Baidu has not used and does not intend to use in its operations.
Mr. Li received a bachelor's degree in information science from Peking University and a master's degree in computer science from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Eric Xu co-founded Baidu with Robin Li at the end of 1999 and helped drive the company to its success.
In August 2004, Xu resigned his position as Chief Strategy Officer.
Xu will continue his education at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business in the fall with the thought of one day going back to business in his first area of expertise: Life sciences.
Life sciences is the industry Xu is most passionate about.
A key member of Li's current managment team is Shawn Wang. Wang is Baidu's Chief Financial Officer.
Othe top management mentioned in the prospectus include: Baidu's thirty-four year-old Chief Operating Officer, David Hongbo Zhu, their thirty-nine year-old Vice President of Engineering, Jerry Jianguo Liu, and their thirty year-old Vice President of Marketing, Dong Liang.
Who Else Is Behind Baidu?
Baidu's current Board members include: Robin Li, as well as, Jixun Foo, a senior associate at Draper Fisher Jurvetson in Singapore, Asad Jamal, Co-Chairman and Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson ePlanet Ventures ("ePlanet") along with Greg B. Penner, previously a Senior Vice President and CFO of Wal-Mart Japan and a now a general partner of Madrone Capital Partners, an investment firm based in Menlo Park, California.
Another entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist, Scott Walchek will remain on the Board of Directors until "the effectiveness" of Baidu's F-1 registration statment. Once this milestone is achieved, the forty-six year-old will resign from the Board.
Walchek previously was the CEO and co-founder of C2B Technologies, an e-commerce infrastructure company acquired by Inktomi Corp. in August 1998. Today, he is a general partner of Integrity Partners, LLC, an early-stage venture capital firm based in Danville, California, as well as a partner in Palm Beach Capital Partners, LLC, an asset-backed hedge fund with US$600 million under management.
Another Asian investment made by Walchek and his partner Greg Newman is one of the least-well-known but best WWII movies ever made called To End All Wars starring Kiefer Sutherland.
Baidu's venture investors include:
* Peninsula Capital
* Integrity Partners
* Draper Fisher Jurvetson's ePlanet Ventures
* IDG Technology Venture Investment L.P.
* Bridger Management
* China Equity Int'l Holding Co. Limited (BVI)
* China Value
* Swiftcurrent Offshore, Ltd.
* Venture TDF
In February 2000, Peninsula Capital and Integrity Partners were the first outside investors in Baidu.
Just seven months later, a Series B was done with Peninsula Capital, Integrity Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson ePlanet Ventures and IDG with ePlanet Ventures leading the round.
Google invested in the Series C round in mid-2004 along with Baidu's previous investors, and CMT CV-BD Limited, Venture TDF Technology Fund III LP, China Equity International Holding Company Limited (BVI) and Swiftcurrent Offshore, Ltd.
There has been much speculation how much Google paid to own a stake in Baidu. Today, we know.
Google paid US$6.67 per share to purchase 749,625 shares of Series C convertible preferred stock.
Google's total investment? Just shy of $5 million.
Last August, Google Inc. went public at $85 a share, and now has a market value of $81.05 billion. This is more than the market cap of Time Warner, the world's largest entertainment company. Time Warner Inc.'s market value is $74.8 billion.
At the end of trading on Tuesday, Google (GOOG) shares were selling at $291.784 each.
Amazingly, Smith Barney analyst Mark Mahaney thinks the stock could trade as high as $360 per share in the not-too-distant future. This would be about 70 times Google's 2005 estimated earnings.
To link to Baidu.com Inc.'s formal documents filed with the United States Securities & Exchange Commission via EDGAR, go to:
Baidu's prospectus, including footnotes, is 223 pages long.
Baidu's business includes:
* Paid search, the fastest growing segment of online marketing in the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan) through 2007.
* Charges customers about .30 RMB or less than $0.04 per click-through.
* 70% of revenue from paid search.
* 15-20% of revenue from generic, non query-sensitive text links.
* Search solutions for enterprises account for the rest.
Baidu's prospectus refers to their customer-base as follows:
We provide online marketing services to our P4P [Pay for Performance] customers and tailored solutions customers.
We define customers in a given period as those that contribute revenues to us during the same period.
Our P4P customers are those who primarily use our auction-based P4P services, and our tailored solutions customers are those to whom we provide marketing solutions, which may consist of one or more forms of our online advertising services as well as P4P services.
Our P4P services allow customers to use our automated online tools to create text-based descriptions of their web pages and bid on keywords that trigger the display of their web page information and links.
Our online advertising services allow customers to use both query sensitive and non-query sensitive advertising services, including text links and graphical advertisements.
We also offer enterprise search software and related services to companies and government agencies in China.
Baidu's prospectus continues:
Our services are designed to enable Internet search users to find relevant information online, including Chinese language web pages, news, images and multimedia files, through links provided on our websites.
We provide our users with easy access to an index of over 690 million web pages, 80 million images and 10 million multimedia files.
We also offer a query-based online community, Baidu Post Bar, which currently consists of over 820,000 message boards.
The prospectus also reports that Baidu's total net revenues increased from RMB10.5 million in 2002 to RMB110.9 million (US$13.4 million) in 2004, representing a compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 224.6%.
In the three months ended March 31, 2005, Baidu states that they generated total net revenues of RMB42.6 million (US$5.2 million).
Baidu currently has 750 employees.
Shanghai's iResearch has estimated that China's Web search market was worth about $50 million in 2004 and is forecast to reach about $200 million by 2006.
On June 15th, John Battelle's Searchblog stated:
Baidu is China's biggest independent Internet search engine and is one of Google's strongest rivals in China. Its music search tool is considered one of the country's best.
But it faces growing competition both from other Chinese search engines, such as Sohu.com, and from foreign giants like Google and Yahoo, which has an alliance with Beijing 3721 via a Hong Kong partner of the Chinese Internet service provider.
"From Google's perspective, it saw Yahoo acquiring 3721 and may have felt prompted to make a move," said Duncan Clark, managing director of the BDA China Ltd. consultancy in Beijing.
Yahoo! paid $120 million in late 2003 for the search engine firm, 3721 Network software Co. Ltd.
Last week, it was reported that the founder of 3721 resigned.
Battelle is the author of the upcoming book, "The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture."
Portfolio is publishing Battelle's hardcover book this September.
However, you can order it online now.
Battelle draws on more than 350 interviews with major players from Silicon Valley to Seattle to Wall Street, including Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt, as well as competitors like Louis Monier, who invented AltaVista.
About The Search Engine Space in China
Referencing Baidu's IPO prospectus:
The Internet search industry in China is evolving rapidly as an increasing number of people seek information, products and services via the Internet.
According to iResearch, the number of Internet search users in China is projected to grow from 115 million in 2005 to 187 million in 2007, representing a CAGR of 27.5%.
With the growth of Internet usage and the rapid development of China's Internet search market, online marketing has become more widely adopted.
According to a 2003 report published by IDC, a leading market research firm, total online marketing revenues in China would amount to approximately US$130 million in 2004.
The paid search market is expected to be the fastest growing segment of online marketing in the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan) through 2007.
As of March 31st 2005, according to InternetWorldStats.com, there are 888 million Internet users in the world.
221 million of these users come from North America.
Asia already represents a larger number of users than North America with over 302 million from thirty-five Asian countries.
InternetWorldStats.com states that China's current user base is 94 million. Japan currently has 67 million users followed by India, which has 39 million.
Out of the 3.6 billion people in Asia, this represents a total penetration of 8.4%.
In Hong Kong alone, where nearly 7 million people reside, 4.8 million use the Internet.
This represents an astounding 69.9% penetration - even more than the United States, which has a current penetration of 67.8%.
With a population of nearly 1.3 billion people, many predict that China will become the largest Internet market in the world.
On Alexa's Top 500 List, Yahoo! is ranked the #1 most trafficked site in the world followed by MSN.com, Google and Yahoo! Japan (www.yahoo.co.jp).
Currently, Sina.com/cn is ranked fifth in the world and #1 in China with Baidu close behind as the sixth largest website globally. This measurement is based on user traffic which reflects pageviews and reach. All data is according to Alexa.com.
Alexa Traffic Data Jan-July 11, '05: Baidu (in blue) vs. Sina (in red)
Alexa's current graph above, however, tells a slightly different picture.
With these kinds of numbers and the penetration potential, it's no wonder so many eyes are focused on China, these days.
Inspire & Be Inspired.
Here's to healthy, adventuresome, soulful, "leaping over the wall and building bridges to China" living!
~ Jennifer Carolyn King, Rugged Elegance, LLC
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