What is Robin Li’s Net Worth?
Robin Li is a Chinese businessman who has a net worth of $10 billion. Robin Li earned his fortune as the founder of Baidu. Launched in 2000, today Baidu is the largest search engine used in China, and the third largest independent search engine in the entire world. Baidu is also permanently in the record books as the first Chinese company to be part of the NASDAQ-100.
In 1996, he created RankDex, the first web search engine to utilize site-scoring and page-ranking algorithms.
Net Worth Details
As of this writing, Robin Li owns a 20% stake in China’s most popular search engine, Baidu. He also controls a 5% stake through his wife Melissa Ma. Together the couple owns more than 7 million Class A and Class B shares in Baidu. Each of those shares equals 10 American depository receipts which are traded publicly on NASDAQ. Baidu earns more than $16 billion in annual revenue.
Early Life and Education
Robin Li was born as Robin Li Yanhong on November 17, 1968 in Yangquan, Shanxi, China to factory worker parents. He is the fourth and only boy of five siblings. For his higher education, Li went to Peking University, from which he earned his bachelor’s degree in information management. Following this, he attended the University at Buffalo in the United States. Although he intended to pursue a doctoral degree there, Li ultimately finished his studies after receiving his master’s degree in 1994.
Following his studies, Li joined IDD Information Services, a division of Dow Jones & Company. During his time there from 1994 to 1997, he helped create a software program for the web edition of the Wall Street Journal, and also worked on improving search engine algorithms.
While working at IDD, Li created RankDex, the first online search engine to use site-scoring and page-ranking algorithms to measure website quality. He soon received a US patent for the technology, which predated Google’s similar “PageRank” algorithm, created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, by two years.
After working as a staff engineer at the Internet search engine company Infoseek in the late 90s, Li co-founded the technology company Baidu with Eric Xu in early 2000. The company specializes in Internet services and products, as well as artificial intelligence software. Baidu’s services include a Chinese search engine, a mapping application, an online encyclopedia, a cloud storage service, and a discussion forum, among many other offerings. Meanwhile, its products include the keyboard apps Simeji and Facemoji Keyboard; the augmented reality network OmniAR; and the ad platform MediaGo. Overall, Baidu has the second-largest search engine in the world, accounting for a 76.05% market share in China’s search engine space.
In the summer of 2005, Baidu went public on Wall Street via a variable interest entity based in the Cayman Islands. A little over two years later, Baidu was included on the NASDAQ-100 index, making it the first-ever Chinese company to earn that honor. Moreover, in 2018, it became the first Chinese company to join the non-profit artificial intelligence ethics coalition Partnership on AI.
Other Business Ventures
Among his other business endeavors, Li serves as the chairman of the online video platform company iQIYI, which was founded in 2010 by Gong Yu. One of the largest sites of its kind in the world, iQIYI has more than 500 million monthly active users. The company went public in the US in 2018, raising $2.25 billion.
Li also sits on the board of the educational service provider New Oriental, headquartered in Beijing. Offering pre-school education, general-level courses, online education, and overseas study consulting, among other services, New Oriental is the largest comprehensive private educational company in China. In 2006, it became the first Chinese company of its kind to go public in the US. New Oriental has grown significantly over the years; it now encompasses schools, book stores, and hundreds of learning centers.
Beyond the private sector, Li has been involved in Chinese politics. In the summer of 2014, he was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as a co-chair of the Independent Expert Advisory Group on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. Additionally, Li serves as a member of the 12th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Honors and Accolades
For his pioneering work in the technology field, Li has been the recipient of many honors. In 2001, he was named among China’s top ten innovative pioneers, and in both 2002 and 2003 was named one of the “IT Ten Famous Persons.” Subsequently, in 2005, Li was listed as one of CCTV’s “Chinese Economic Figures of the Year.” The following year, he was lauded as “World’s Best Business Leader” by American Business Weekly. Among his other honors, Li was included on CNN Money’s 2007 list of “50 People Who Matter Now.”
With his wife Dongmin Ma – better known as Melissa Ma – Li has four children. Ma was educated at the University of Science and Technology of China and Rutgers University; she went on to work with her husband at Baidu. The couple resides in Beijing, China.