Google's departing China head, Kai-Fu Lee, said yesterday that he plans to form an 800 million yuan fund to invest in hi-tech startups.
Young Chinese entrepreneurs would be able to obtain "angel funding" to develop their ventures, said Lee, who announced his decision to exit the Internet search giant last Friday.
WI Harper Group will be the lead investor in Innovation Work, the fund headed by Lee, according to a statement. Other investors include Steven Chen, the Youtube co-founder, Foxconn Technology Group, Legend Group and New Oriental Education & Technology Group.
Lee departs Google at a crucial time when the US search engine is narrowing its gap with market leader Baidu Inc, which accounts for nearly two thirds of the market share.
In a separate conference held yesterday, John Liu, the former head of Google's China sales who is taking over Lee's responsibilities, exuded confidence that Google China would continue its growth in the country.
The company also appointed Boon-Lock Yeo, director of Google's Shanghai engineering office, to take over Lee's engineering responsibilities.
Edwards Yu, president of domestic research firm Analysys International, said Lee's departure would not severely impact Google's business in China. The company reported US$400 million in revenue last year in the Chinese market including Hong Kong and Taiwan.
But he said the success of Google in China would be reliant on a team that could "make a better balance between the government and the company headquarters in the US".
Google's market share in the mainland rose to 27.8 percent last year from 16.1 percent in 2006, according to Beijing-based researcher Analysys International, while Baidu's share grew to 62.2 percent from 53.3 percent.
(China Daily September 8, 2009)