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Social networking, AI the future: Sohu chief



Zhang Chaoyang, chairman and CEO of, speaks during an interview in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, Nov 16, 2016. [Photo by Wu Xiaobo/]

Social networking and artificial intelligence will be the future for, said Zhang Chaoyang, the internet company's chairman and chief executive.

The internet industry has undergone large-scale changes in recent years, of which the biggest is the emergence of the mobile internet, said Zhang at the sideline of the Third World Internet Conference (WIC) held in Wuzhen, East China's Zhejiang province, on Wednesday.

"Social networking develops at an alarming speed. People are always in an online state," said Zhang, recalling that there were only thousands of internet users two decades ago when he came back to China from the United States.

This was the third time Zhang took part in the WIC. "It was a party to meet the people who I'm very familiar with," he said.

As a big event in China's internet industry, the annual WIC drew many internet tycoons in the past three years including Alibaba's Jack Ma, Tencent's Pony Ma, and Baidu's Robin Li.

Once a pioneer in the internet industry, Sohu seems to have lost its early influence over the fast-changing internet landscape.

Zhang said he made some correct, even forward-thinking decisions. "The decision to come back to China and start the internet company was forward-looking. In attracting venture capital, marketing and going public, Sohu was the forunner," he said, admitting that products were ignored when too much was invested in marketing.

Despite missing some chances, Sohu has strengths in experiences, brand and business outlay, Zhang said.

He expressed confidence in the company's search subsidiary Sogou which has been engaged in the research, development and application of artificial intelligence in search services, as well as its online video and news services.