Artman Talks

Exploring the currents of modern China

Baidu Yi is not a Freaking Fork with Kaiser Kuo

For this episode, we are joined by Kaiser Kuo, international communications director of Baidu.

Your truly suspects that Kaiser might actually be a spy (I mean, he DID go to UC Berkeley ), but good for us that doesn’t affect him as the go-to-guy for English speakers interested in what Baidu is up to (maybe it actually helps?).

My first encounter with Mr Kuo was his regular column at the back of The Beijinger when I first arrived in 2008, known at the time as That’s Beijing or “the magazine about stuff I can’t afford”. And since then, I’ve come to realize that he is not the hardened Western-looking, strong jaw-type that I imagined him to be. Instead, he’s a long-haired, soft-spoken punk rocker.

To be honest, with his pseudo-celebrity status among the expat community in China, I did have some trepidation about approaching him (didn’t want “OMG, like, I just love your hair! Do you use conditioner?”). However, he turned out to be very friendly and even willing to answer some pretty silly questions from this psuedo-journalist.

From the title, you might guess (correctly) that we talked about Baidu’s new mobile platform soon to be released and how it is NOT a fork of Android. Well…. it is…. for now, according to Kaiser. Apparently, Baidu has some pretty big plans for their entry into the mobile space. To paraphrase: Baidu entered a fragmented search market and has since become the number one destination for search in China. They hope to do something similar with mobile.

We took some tangents at the beginning, exploring PR, the media, and corporate culture in China, but I’m sure you’ll find it just as interesting as the tech talk.

Download episode 17 and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

And one more thing: Thanks to Kaiser for the 安全期 (anquan qi, “safety period”) tip. Got lots of laughs and red faces at the office when I asked what it meant.

(Disclaimer: I have no evidence to back up my claims that Mr Kuo is in fact a spy nor do I actually believe him to be one. Please don’t mind my poor taste in humour or use of the British spelling of the aforementioned word.)

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