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Robin Li (李彦宏)

Founder & CEO



Founder & CEO











What makes Robin Li a Global Shaker?

Robin Li, also known as Li Yanhong (李彦宏), is the co-founder and CEO of Baidu, one of the largest technology and AI companies in the world. Baidu is also the largest search engine in China. In 2005, it successfully fulfilled its IPO, and in 2007, it became the first Chinese company to be included in the NASDAQ-100 Index. It is part of the BAT conglomerate along with Alibaba, and Tencent, the three most powerful corporations in China.

Robin came from humble beginnings, growing up with four sisters in Yangquan. He completed a bachelor’s in information science from Peking University and a master’s in computer science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, after deciding not to finish the PhD. When Robin was applying to attend graduate school in New York, his interviewing professor asked him, “Do you have computers in China?”

“I was very embarrassed,” he said in a TIME interview, reflecting on the incident. “I thought, One day I’ll demonstrate that China has a really powerful computer industry.”

Following graduation, Robin began working at IDD Information Services, a division of Dow Jones and Company. He created the Rankdex site-scoring algorithm during his time at IDD, which he later used for the Baidu search engine. He then moved to Infoseek and took up the role of software engineer.

In 2000, Robin moved back to China to found Baidu with Eric Zu, who left the company in 2004. Baidu racked in $9 billion in revenue over the first three quarters of 2017, and Robin immediately put $1.2 billion of that directly into R&D, with much of it being designated to AI.

“Our vision is that humans can interact with all devices using human language,” he said. “In the future…tools will learn how to understand human language, human intentions.”

In 2006, American Business Weekly named him as the “World’s Best Business Leader.”

In 2014, he was appointed by the Secretary General of the UN as co-chair of the Independent Expert Advisory Group on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.

Last updated: April 23, 2019