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US Internet search giant Google adds to China team

Posted by inet - 2005-10-27

Google increased its focus on China by hiring a sales veteran to lead the US Internet search powerhouse's marketing strategy in that country, the company announced.
Johnny Chou will "establish and lead Google's sales and business development operations in Greater China," the Silicon Valley company said in a written release.

Chou was hired away from UT Starcom, where he was president of that company's China operations for nine years, according to Google.

"The leadership and experience that Johnny Chou brings to Google will be an invaluable asset to Google's plans for developing its business operations in China," said Omid Kordestani, senior vice president of Google's Worldwide Sales and Field Operations.

"Johnny Chou has a proven track record of leading businesses to success in the complex Chinese market and will accelerate our efforts to establish Google's operations in China."

Chou will work with Lee Kaifu, a former Microsoft executive wooed away from the US software giant earlier this year to establish and oversee a Google research center in China, according to Google.

Lee took up his post in China after Microsoft lost a court battle in the United States seeking to block the move.

Lee, a former vice president with Microsoft, was given the green light in September by a judge who said Lee could give Google non-technical advice on doing business in China.

Microsoft had argued Lee was violating confidentiality and non-competition clauses in his employee contract and could damage the company by giving Google access to its corporate secrets.

The judge barred Lee, a computer scientist known for pioneering work in the areas of speech recognition and artificial intelligence, from carrying out work related to computer searches, speech, or languages.

He was also ordered not to disclose any trade secrets he gleaned from Microsoft.

A civil trial that promises to have Google and Microsoft slugging it out in court over Lee is pending.

After arriving in China, Lee said his immediate aim was to recruit 50 college graduates this year, and hire engineers from within the industry.

Lee has been tasked with setting up the US Internet search giant's development centre in China. A decision is expected to be made soon on whether to locate it in Beijing or Shanghai, he said.

Lee and Chou will jointly oversee overall operations at Google's center in China, according to the company.

Chou will lead Google's sales and business development activities while Lee will spearhead Google's public affairs and the creation of the company's research and development center, the company said.

Google has heralded the creation of the centre as a sign of its strong commitment to cultivating Chinese talent as well as its intent to form alliances with universities and institutes.

"The opening of an R and D center in China will strengthen Google's efforts in delivering the best search experience to our users and partners worldwide," Alan Eustace, vice president of engineering at Google, said earlier this year.

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