Internet search giant Baidu — essentially the Google of China — has welcomed to its board Uber’s former chief financial officer, Brent Callinicos, and Lenovo’s current chairman and chief executive, Yuanqing Yang, as it seeks to pump more time and money into growing its offline-to-online (O2O) services. Baidu already partners with Uber in China to allow its 300 million maps users to hail a car from inside the app.
Baidu’s chairman and chief executive, Robin Li, said the new board members will be key as the company “moves into its next stage of growth.” Earlier this year, in June, Baidu announced it would invest $3.2 billion into its O2O push as it fights off rivals like ecommerce giant Alibaba and social networking powerhouse Tencent.
Both Alibaba and Tencent are making extremely rapid and aggressive O2O plays themselves, though Baidu hasn’t stood still. It recently unveiled its new AI-powered virtual assistant that will live within its flagship mobile search app to assist in O2O related voice searches, such as ordering food or checking for train tickets — searches that it says account for an ever-growing proportion of the total, and represents a largely untapped ecommerce opportunity.
Before his time at Uber (2013-2015), Callinicos was vice president at Google (2007-2013) as well as corporate vice president and chief financial officer at Microsoft’s platforms and services division (1992-2007). He remains an advisor at Uber. Yang, meanwhile, is still chairman and chief executive at Lenovo (1989-present).
At the end of last week, Uber rolled out its APIs in China to allow developers there to integrate its car-hailing services into their own apps.