Posted by: kenwbudd | September 4, 2009

Google’s Chief Executive in China Resigns his Post

In what is likely to be seen as a blow to Google’s ambitions in China, Kai-Fu Lee, the prominent head of the company’s operations there, is leaving for an unspecified new venture.

Google said in a news release early Friday in Beijing that Mr. Lee, who was president of Google Greater China and vice president for engineering, would leave the company in mid-September. Two current executives will take over Mr. Lee’s engineering and sales roles. Boon-Lock Yeo, currently director of Google’s Shanghai engineering office, will take over engineering responsibilities for Google China, and John Liu, vice president of sales and operations, will assume business and operational responsibilities.

Mr. Lee’s tenure began tumultuously. Shortly after he was hired as Google’s first employee in China in 2005, Mr. Lee’s former employer, Microsoft, sued Google, claiming that Mr. Lee had an agreement that precluded him from working for a competitor. The suit, which gained wide attention, was settled a few months later. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Google credited Mr. Lee with bolstering its operations in China, releasing Google.cn, the company’s Chinese-language search engine, and hiring a team of top-notch engineers and scientists.

“Kai-Fu has made an enormous contribution to Google over the last 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,” Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering, said in a statement.

But Google has struggled in China, where it has lagged far behind the home-grown search engine Baidu. It has also come under criticism from human rights groups and has had its services intermittently blocked by the Chinese government.

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