Personal update: joining Google in China

Happy 2011!

I wanted to share some personal news with you, but first, I apologize for having neglected this blog for much of 2010.  I wanted to thank fellow blogger Baoru (aka Katherine Tanyu) for publishing some great content on the World Expo and I appreciate her keeping the blog alive while she was in Shanghai in 2010.

I just accepted an offer to join Google as head of product management, based in Beijing.  I wrote about this on my personal blog, and since no one even knows about that blog, I’ll excerpt from it liberally here:

In this role, I’ll be leading a small, very-talented team of product managers who are doing two things: (1) launching products and supporting global R&D projects focused on Google’s global markets, and (2) driving a product roadmap serving the domestic Chinese market.  I’ll be commuting to China from Mountain View until June or July, at which point my wife, our 3 boys, and some subset of our accumulated “stuff” will lift off from our home near Mountain View and land in a new home somewhere in Beijing.  In the meantime, I’ll have plenty of time to rack up frequent flier miles, become “Googly” (aka programmed in the Google global culture) and build important relationships in the global R&D organization at Google which is Mountain-View centric.

If you’re reading this post, you probably already know that I think China is “one of the biggest stories of our time.”  Like most of you, I also firmly believe that when the history of our period is written, the internet will be another one of the biggest stories of our time.  In this role, I’m excited about the chance to play my part in both of these stories at the same time.

In many ways, I can’t think of a better vantage point to contribute to China’s development and to contribute to the development of the internet.  And because the role is intensely cross-border and global in nature, it is something that plays to my strengths as a foreigner.

I also shared about the loss of the naive enthusiasm I once had about all things related to China back at the very beginning…

But during the past 5 years, I’ve come to appreciate an apt characterization of China made by James L. McGregor (now on Twitter), former Wall Street Journal bureau chief and Dow Jones China chief executive, who called China “the world’s greatest startup” and “the world’s greatest turnaround.”  I now try to understand everything in China in terms of these two faces–or aspects–of China.

Just about one year ago, Google announced it’s new approach to Chinawhich some later characterized as “the pullout.”  Some others have characterized 2010 as a “bitter winter” for the Chinese internet overall.  In fact, according to the saying “guo jin, min tui” the rest of Chinese entrepreneurs and non-state owned businesses also faced a bitter winter of challenges in 2010.  Even Jeffrey Immelt went off script to express his frustration.

So I’ll seek to recapture and use the energy that comes through youthful optimism…while keeping a realistic eye toward the situation at all times.

A little bit more about joining Google China at original post.

So what does this mean for the ol’ CNReviews?  I’m not sure.   I expect the job to be pretty demanding from a time standpoint, especially given the heavy travel required between Mountain View, CA; Beijing, Shanghai, and Taipei.  But I know I’ll be needing a place to write about life, people, and business in China and I can think of no better place than here.

I’ll be thinking about how to resume blogging on CNReviews with a narrower focus and with a mission that gets me posting more often!  Your thoughts and advice about what to write about on CNReviews is welcome.

photo: CC courtesy of veen on flickr.

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