Chinese internet giant Baidu Inc’s revenue outpaced predictions after attempts to monetize AI technology assisted in offsetting a drop in ad sales caused by China’s economic slowdown, reports Caixin. Revenue for the fourth quarter of 2021 came in at RMB 33.1 billion ($5.2 billion), compared with the RMB 32.2 billion average estimate.
Revenue from non-advertising businesses, including the cloud segment, surged 63% in the three months, compared with growth of just 1% in online marketing. But net income plunged to RMB 1.7 billion from RMB 5.17 billion a year earlier, underscoring the challenges for the internet giant.
China’s internet search leader is in the midst of a transition from an online marketing company to a hard-tech supplier in arenas from self-driving vehicles to the cloud and chips. The country’s weakening economy and Beijing’s crackdown on private sectors from education to property have hammered Baidu’s core search-advertising division, while the commercialization of its AI tech needs time.