A severe and prolonged global economic recession and the slowdown in the Chinese economy
may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The global macroeconomic
environment is facing challenges, including the escalation of the European sovereign debt crisis since 2011, the end of quantitative easing by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the economic slowdown in the Eurozone in 2014. The growth of the Chinese
economy has slowed since 2012 and such slowdown may continue. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, Chinas gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed to 6.7% in 2016. There is considerable uncertainty over the long-term
effects of the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies adopted by the central banks and financial authorities of some of the worlds leading economies, including the United States and China. There have been concerns over unrest and terrorist
threats in the Middle East, Africa, Ukraine and Syria. There have also been concerns about the tensions in the relationship between China and other countries, including surrounding Asian countries, which may potentially lead to foreign investors
closing down their business or withdrawing their investment in China and thus exiting the China market, and other economic effects. Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions, as well as changes in domestic economic and
political policies and the expected or perceived overall economic growth rate in China. Any prolonged slowdown in the global or Chinese economy may have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and financial
condition, and continued turbulence in the international markets may adversely affect our ability to access the capital markets to meet liquidity needs. Our customers may reduce or delay spending with us, while we may have difficulty expanding our
customer base fast enough, or at all, to offset the impact of decreased spending by our existing customers. In addition, to the extent we offer credit to any customer and the customer experiences financial difficulties due to the economic slowdown,
we could have difficulty collecting payment from the customer.
Because we rely to a large extent on distributors in providing our
online marketing services, failure to retain key distributors or attract additional distributors could materially and adversely affect our business. Moreover, there is no assurance that our direct sales model in some key geographic markets will
continue to be successful.
Online marketing is at a development stage in China and is not as widely accepted by or
available to businesses in China as in the United States. As a result, we rely, to a large extent, on a nationwide distribution network of third-party distributors for our sales to, and collection of payment from, our customers. If our distributors
do not provide quality services to our customers or otherwise breach their contracts with our customers, we may lose customers and our results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. Since most of our distributors are not bound by
long-term contracts, we cannot assure you that we will continue to maintain favorable relationships with them. If we fail to retain our key distributors or attract additional distributors on terms that are commercially reasonable, our business and
results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
We have transitioned to using our direct sales force to
serve customers in some key geographic markets, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and major cities in Guangdong Province. There is no assurance that our direct sales model in those markets will continue to be successful. If we fail to maintain an
adequate direct sales force, retain existing customers and continue to attract new customers in those markets, our business, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.
We rely on our Baidu Union members for a significant portion of our revenues. If we fail to retain existing Baidu Union members or
attract additional members, our revenue growth and profitability may be adversely affected.
We pay Baidu Union
members a portion of our revenues based on click-throughs by users of Baidu Union members properties. Some of our Baidu Union members, however, may compete with us in one or more areas of our business. Therefore, they may decide in the future
to terminate their relationships with us. If our Baidu Union members decide to use a competitors or their own internet search services, our user traffic may decline, which