Things are somehow only getting worse for Baidu, the Chinese internet giant that is often compared to Google has managed to add further to its reputation for inappropriate and sexist conduct.
Liu Chao, (former) head of user experience at Baidu, took to the stage on Saturday at an industry conference. What was intended to be an educational and innovative presentation fell short of expectations — rather it fell smack down on its face.
The most poignant moment of Liu’s trainwreck of a presentation came when he attempted to use a metaphor to explain consumer demand. According to Sixth Tone, here’s what the Baidu exec said:
If a girl says to me, “The air conditioning in my dorm doesn’t work, and I don’t want to go home,” what does she mean? I think it means she wants to kiss and have some sex.
Thank you Liu Chao for shedding new light on the meaning of consumer demand!
Liu then went on to display four photos of female Baidu employees. He bolstered:
Many would speculate whether they were recruited by Baidu just because they have pretty faces. It’s not true. They were quite ugly before joining us. Later, after being influenced by us, their face scores have largely improved.
Surprisingly enough, one of the women featured was Liu’s wife, a product manager at Baidu. One might wonder what her thoughts are on his remarks.
As Liu continued deeper into the inconceivable mess of his once salvageable presentation, the audience even began to cry out out in protest. A woman shouted out, “It’s too tasteless! You should get off the stage,” Sixth Tone reports.
Over the course of this “delightful” 18-minute speech, given in front of executives from international companies like Uber and Microsoft, Liu managed to offend the majority of his audience. In the end, what he may have considered harmless “tongue-in-cheek” humor has been received with outrage from the public and the media. Baidu has responded to the backlash by promptly removing him from his position at the company.
This whole thing likely won’t do much to help Baidu’s ever worsening image problems.
Back in May, the company was slammed for putting its own profits above the health and safety of its users, after a 21-year-old student with cancer tried an experimental procedure that he had found by searching on Baidu. The treatment failed to cure his cancer, but did cost the family 200,000 yuan. Chinese authorities are now holding Baidu accountable for its paid advertisements, tightening up the rules on what kind of ads the company can accept.
Of course, last March, Baidu also found itself at the center of a similarly sexist controversy for perpetuating stereotypical images of women through doodles featured on the company’s website marking International Women’s Day.
Hey, Baidu’s always got the driverless cars.
By Robin Winship
[Images via Sixth Tone]