Google’s China chief leaves the internet giant

4 Sep 2009

The face of Google China, Lee Kai-Fu, is to leave the company to start his own business.

In his position as President and Vice-President for Engineering of Google China, Lee (pictured) spear-headed the internet giant’s incursion into the massively lucrative Chinese search market over the past four years.

Google said Lee would be replaced by two Chinese Google executives – Yeo Boon-Lock, director of Google’s Shanghai engineering office, who will take on Lee’s engineering duties, and John Liu, head of Google’s sales team in Greater China, who will assume Lee’s business and operational responsibilities.

 Under Lee’s leadership, Google China has made significant inroads into the Chinese market. He was instrumental in launching, Google’s China domain, and helped to build a number of market-leading products in China, including Google Maps, Google Mobile Search and Google Translate, Google said. Most recently he launched the ad-supported music site, Google Music Search.

Lee joined Google China from Microsoft in 2005 under somewhat of a cloud as Microsoft sued Google over the appointment, arguing that Lee had breached his contract of employment. The companies later settled privately on the matter.

Announcing Lee’s departure, Google’s Senior Vice-President for Engineering Alan Eustace said: “Kai-Fu has made an enormous contribution to Google over the past four years – helping dramatically to improve the quality and range of services that we offer in China and ensuring that we continue to innovate on the web for the benefit of users and advertisers. He’s also recruited some of China’s best and brightest engineers to Google, and served as a teacher and mentor to thousands of university students across China.”

“It has been a true honour and privilege to work with such an amazing company,” Lee said. “With a very strong leadership team in place, it seemed a very good moment for me to move to the next chapter in my career.”

By Jennifer Yau