Baidu, China’s leading search engine, announced today that it has appointed Liu Dejian, the founder, chairman and executive director of NetDragon, an online gaming and mobile developer, to its Board of Directors. Liu also served as chairman and non-executive director of 91 Wireless, one of China’s largest app marketplaces and a former NetDragon subsidiary, before Baidu agreed to acquire it for $1.9 billion in August 2013.
Liu’s appointment signifies Baidu’s ongoing focus on its mobile strategy. The company was relatively late to monetize its mobile businesses, especially when compared to rivals like Tencent, Qihoo and Alibaba Group, but has been aggressively building its mobile assets over the past year with several acquisitions, including 91 Wireless and streaming video platform PPS.
Founded in 1999, NetDragon is now one of China’s largest online gaming and mobile platform development companies. Liu oversees NetDragon’s overall strategic development and is the chief designer on its game development team. After NetDragon bought 91 Wireless in 2008, it quickly grew into one of the top third-party smartphone app distribution platforms in China, where Google Play isn’t available.
In a statement, Baidu chairman and CEO Robin Li said Liu’s “innovative leadership style and pedigree as an Internet entrepreneur will be of great value to Baidu. We are confident that he will make a significant contribution to our efforts to consolidate our leading position in China.”