Baidu’s ‘I’m not your mum’ government has left tech firm

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for freeRoula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favorite tales on this weekly publication.Baidu’s public relations head Qu Jing has left the corporate after posting a sequence of social media movies by which she demeaned workers, sparking a backlash over office practices in China’s tech sector.The movies featured Qu demanding lengthy hours from her workforce members and devotion to the corporate. They have been supposed to show her workers learn how to use their private social media accounts to lift the profile of Baidu however as an alternative engulfed the Chinese language search engine big in controversy.Qu has left the corporate as of Thursday night, mentioned two individuals accustomed to the matter. Baidu didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Qu couldn’t be reached for remark.On Thursday, she apologised on social media for her movies inflicting “exterior misunderstandings about Baidu’s values and tradition”.In one of many movies, which unfold broadly on Chinese language social media, Qu mentioned she didn’t care about how lengthy hours and in depth enterprise journey would have an effect on the private lives of her workers. “I’m not your mum,” she mentioned. “I solely care about outcomes.”Her feedback revived issues about working situations at Chinese language tech teams. The lengthy hours usually anticipated of tech staff are generally known as “996”, which means they begin work at 9am, go away at 9pm and work six days per week.“Individuals in China have began to rethink the connection of worker and employer and are questioning why they get little reward for devoting all of their time and vitality to work,” mentioned Ivy Yang, a company communications skilled and founding father of Wavelet Technique. Qu’s feedback have been considered as a window into how the highest echelons of China’s company world thought of their staff, mentioned Yang. “It provoked an emotional response,” she mentioned.Qu joined Baidu from Chinese language tech group Huawei and was near Melissa Ma, Baidu founder Robin Li’s spouse, in response to two individuals accustomed to the matter. Ma is concerned with recruitment and HR on the firm.RecommendedChinese media reported Li had held a small assembly with staff about Qu’s feedback on Thursday afternoon and mentioned Baidu’s staff “signify the actual Baidu”.The Chinese language tech big, as soon as thought-about a rival to Alibaba and Tencent, has lately been affected by a sequence of disappointing product initiatives compounded by stalled development in its fundamental search promoting enterprise.The Nasdaq-listed firm’s market worth has fallen from a peak of about $115bn in 2021 to $39bn.With the rise of generative synthetic intelligence, Li has concentrated workers and sources on turning Baidu into China’s reply to OpenAI.The corporate’s chatbot Ernie, its counterpart to ChatGPT, is among the many leaders in China, however Baidu faces competitors with dozens of start-ups creating their very own massive language fashions.Extra reporting by Nian Liu in Beijing

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