Executives from China's largest search engine Baidu are visiting Facebook today, suggesting that the two companies plan to discuss a partnership.
Sina News first reported the Baidu visit, without specifying which executives of the company are traveling to Facebook. Apparently the Chinese search engine's Chief Executive Officer Robin Li has publicly expressed interest in partnering with the U.S. social network.
The Chinese news outlet quoted Li telling U.S. conference goers last year:
I think that companies such as Facebook should consider the Chinese market, if they are in the proper way and have enough patience, you will have the opportunity. But time flies fast growing Internet market, and there are many challenges. If you do not wait and will lose the opportunity… We are already involved in China and Japan. Yhe next 5 to 10 years, we may enter dozens of markets. The Chinese market has been large enough, we can make use of the funds available to carry out market expansion.
China has 400 million Internet users — add that number to Facebook's current user base, and the U.S. social network could cross the one billion member mark. But that would require partnering with more than just Baidu, which has roughly 120 million users.
Baidu had roughly 30 percent of the market for search in the country during the first three quarters of 2010, according to Resonance China's translation of data from Meihua Info. Google has about 10 percent of the market, or 40 million users, while Sina has 8.5 percent, or 34 million users there.
The timing for these partnerships makes a lot of sense for Baidu, given that Google and Microsoft both embedded Facebook functionality in their respective search engines and toolbars. We wouldn't be surprised if the Baidu executives' visit were copied by every competitor in the region, including Sina, Alibaba, Sohu, Tencent, NetEase and Yoku.
What outcome do you expect from Baidu executives' talks with Facebook?
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