Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google Swaps Out China Bosses

Kai-Fu Lee, the head of Google’s China operations, is leaving the company this month to start his own company. He’ll be replaced by two other Google executives: Boon-Lock Yeo will take over engineering for Google China, and China sales boss John Liu will run the business side.

Lee had a four-year run that began with a bang: Google (GOOG) poached him from Microsoft (MSFT) in 2005, which kicked off a legal battle between the two rivals.

Microsoft accused Lee and Google of violating a noncompete, and Google countersued. Both cases were settled out of court, but not before documents surfaced alleging that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had once thrown a chair, called Google CEO Eric Schmidt a “pussy” and promised to “f—ing kill Google” while in the presence of another engineer who defected from Microsoft.

Less exciting but more important has been Google’s progress in China since Lee opened up its outpost there. The company was late to China and has been gaining ground, but still lags market leader Baidu (BIDU) there by a wide margin.