Baidu hires a CEO for Geely’s electrical automobile firm

A woman walks past the Baidu booth at the China International Technology Fair in Shanghai.

STR | AFP | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China – Baidu has won the co-founder of bike-sharing start-up Mobike as managing director of his electric car company with Chinese automaker Geely, a knowledgeable source told CNBC.

Last month, Baidu and Geely formed a strategic partnership to create a stand-alone electric car company. Baidu is the majority shareholder.

At the search giant’s fourth quarter earnings report Thursday morning in Asia, CEO Robin Li said the electric vehicle company selected a leader for the company without revealing a name.

However, CNBC has confirmed that Mobike co-founder Xia Yiping will be the new company’s CEO, according to the source who requested anonymity, as they were not allowed to publicly discuss the information.

Baidu declined to comment when contacted by CNBC. Geely said it was unfamiliar with Xia’s appointment. Reuters reported the news first.

Xia previously worked at Fiat Chrysler and Ford before co-founding Mobike according to his LinkedIn profile. Mobike was part of China’s boom – and ultimately bankruptcy – in joint bicycle start-ups. Mobike was finally taken over by the Chinese food supplier Meituan in 2018.

When giving the results, Li said that Baidu’s electric car company hopes to bring its first vehicle to market within three years. Li also said a brand name was selected but not published.

Baidu’s foray into electric vehicles is an attempt to diversify its business beyond advertising.

On Wednesday, Baidu reported a fourth quarter 2020 profit that exceeded market expectations. In particular, revenue outside of marketing – excluding advertising and including cloud and autonomous amusement rides – increased 52% year over year.

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