* Baidu to hire software engineers from U.S. in July
* First such overseas hires
(Adds quotes, background)
By Melanie Lee
SHANGHAI, June 29 Baidu Inc, China's leading
search engine, will start hiring software engineers directly from
the United States early next month, as it seeks to expand its
technological capabilities and raise its global profile.
Baidu (BIDU.O) stands to be the biggest beneficiary in
China's search sector after Google Inc (GOOG.O) relocated its
China servers to Hong Kong following a high-profile spat with
Beijing over censorship and hacking.
Baidu would hire 30 mid-to senior-level software engineers
from Silicon Valley at a job fair on July 10 to drive new
technology projects, its first direct hiring from the United
States, a Baidu spokesman told Reuters on Tuesday.
"Baidu believes that talent is the key to our success as a
company, and we go where ever the best talent can be found,
whether here in China or in Silicon Valley," Zheng Bin, Baidu's
human resources director said in a statement to Reuters.
"As we develop more and more advanced search technologies,
our need for world-class talent will only continue to increase."
Baidu is a household name in China but not well known
overseas. Baidu Japan, the firm's venture into the Japanese
search market, has been loss-making ever since its inception.
The hiring is significant as it shows that Baidu,
traditionally domestically focused, is eager to raise its profile
overseas and plug into talent outside China. The move also comes
as other Chinese Internet firms, such as Tencent Holdings
(0700.HK), China's largest Internet firm by market value, are
starting to invest overseas.
Analysts expect Baidu to win as much as half of Google
China's search revenue, which could add as much as $330 million
annually to Baidu's top line, representing a more than 50 percent
increase on 2009 revenue of 4.45 billion yuan ($654.8 million).
The migration to a new search keyword system has also fuelled
revenue growth, leading to the need for more software engineers,
said a Baidu spokesman.
In an archetypal rags-to-riches tech story, Baidu was founded
by Robin Li, who started the firm in a 3-star hotel room in
Beijing. The search giant, whose name is taken from an ancient
poem, now dominates the world's biggest Internet market, with
more than 60 percent market share by revenue and about 75 percent
Baidu shares are up 80 percent since the start of the year
compared with the Nasdaq's 2 percent fall. It now trades at a
rich forward 2010 price earnings ratio of 61 times, more than
triple that of Google.
(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)