Beijing — Shawn Wang, chief financial officer of Baidu.com Inc., the leading Chinese search engine that can search websites, audio files, and images, has reportedly died in an accident, while on a vacation in the country that occurred on Dec. 27, the company said in a statement.
“Wang died three days ago during a Christmas-New Year holiday, the company said without giving further details.”
The deadly incident took place in China. According to the company’s statement Wang was on his Christmas holiday. Baidu did not provide details of the fatal accident, except to say that it took place “in China during the Christmas holiday vacation,” and its spokesmen and officials were not immediately available for comments on the matter.
“We are all completely shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic news,” said Robin Li, Baidu’s chairman and CEO, in a statement that described Wang as a “tremendous leader” and “wonderful friend.”
“Under Wang’s leadership, this year Baidu became one of the four biggest firms in the U.S. by stock transaction volume and the first Chinese company to join the Nasdaq 100 index,” Baidu’s Li said in an e-mail to employees.
“Besides his contribution to financial affairs, he also led the company’s legal and human resources departments to fruitful achievements,” Li said.
Wang, who joined the Beijing-based company three years ago and helped it successfully list on the Nasdaq stock exchange the following year. In August 2005, Baidu went public on Nasdaq at $27 a share; less than 21/2 years later, it is trading at nearly 15 times its IPO price.
“Before Baidu, Wang worked as a partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Global Capital Markets Group.”
“Shawn’s leadership and vision helped transform Baidu into a leading US public company, and his presence will be greatly missed,” added Li in the company statement.
Baidu did not immediately name a new CFO, saying Wang’s responsibilities would be overseen by the company’s management team until a successor is found.
Shawn Wang was also an independent director and chairman of the board’s audit committee at WuXi PharmaTech, the Shanghai provider of outsourced drug-development services.
Baidu is often regarded as China’s version of Google because of the Chinese-language search engine’s popularity and profits and thanks to its interface which is very similar with that of Google.
It also has an online collaboratively-built encyclopedia similar to Wikipedia (Baidu Baike), and a searchable keyword-based discussion forum. Baidu provides an index of over 740 million web pages, 80 million images, and 10 million multimedia files.
Baidu had a 60.5-percent share of China’s search engine market in the third quarter, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.
The company’s third-quarter profits rose 113.2 percent year-on-year to 24.2 million U.S. dollars on strong traffic growth. It is considering a listing in Hong Kong.