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Robin Li of Baidu Calls for Company Changes and Warns Employees in Internal Email

In an internal email released sometime in the past few days to company employees entitled “Changing Starts With You and Me,” Baidu’s CEO Robin Li gave an encouraging though admonishing message to employees about the future of Baidu in mobile technology as well as the challenges he perceives.

The email specifically warns employees not to become satisfied and smug about their work and makes the point that Baidu should move forward by reinvesting in new products while innovating and protecting its core businesses.

Referring to the migration of users from PC to mobile, Mr. Li says that Baidu should encourage users to migrate earlier instead of selling the status quo. He suggests that the best way to implement all this is to promote ambitious, indomitable behavior, and get rid of snobbish complaisance.  “If you are simply looking to avoid difficult situations and find stable work instead of striving to be successful, then please leave now, otherwise the ship will collapse,” says Mr. Li.

He also warns the company about its future, declaring that some of Baidu’s “inherent advantages may weaken with the passage of time and changes in the market, and resisting these changes will be dangerous…” He calls for a move to educate users about mobile technology and for managers to recognize their role in product strategy.

Perhaps the most telling passage, however, describes his understanding of certain employees that Baidu–and most tech companies in China–often encounter: those who speaks English well, come from a good background, have a steady income, and believe that work is just a part of life. Robin Li does not like them, even though he is one of them.

Though he does not discount Baidu’s growth over the years partially because of these people, he says that such previous advantages may turn into Baidu’s greatest burdens in the future. “I am telling everyone, this sort of background is not necessarily an advantage: your life is comfortable, much like a dinosaur that has spent many years growing and cannot survive when conditions suddenly change.” In other words, Baidu must be alert to the changes of the market and employees cannot expect business to stay the same.

Finally, Robin makes an appeal to improve work efficiency. He wants to reduce the amount of junior employees coming on-board and limit the amount of meetings held. According to his assessment, managers are taking on too many new people, which has restricted their ability to write code. Of those who have worked at Baidu for more than two years, says Mr. Li, very few of them actually still write. Additionally, meetings are becoming less effective. He would like to see every meeting conducted in a timely manner, with a clear decision-maker, and a deadline for follow-ups.

In conclusion, Robin says that “the entire Chinese Internet market, or the world’s market economy and environment, actually boils down to the law of survival of the fittest.” Much as a “dinosaur can stomp on a ladle” and only recognize the pain a few hours later, Robin Li says that “no matter how big you get, you can still become extinct.” Hopefully Baidu employees will take this to heart.

Source: Sina Tech

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