Google to add China staff, promote products

BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - Google Inc, the world’s Internet services leader, plans to boost hiring in China by one-third this year and increase promotional spending to win market share, a senior company executive said on Saturday.

A laptop screen shows the homepage of in Beijing June 8, 2006. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Lee Kai-Fu, Google’s president for Greater China, said in an interview that the Silicon Valley company intends to add 200 staffers in 2008 to its existing 600 employees and to keep up that level of hiring for the next three to five years.

The new jobs will be in technology and sales and marketing and half of the jobs will go to new university graduates, Lee told Reuters on the sidelines of the Committee of 100 conference, an annual gathering of Chinese-American leaders. The three-day event in Beverly Hills ends on Saturday.

Google, one of the most popular places to work among recent graduates, has sharply curtailed hiring. The company has hired around 800 new employees worldwide in each of the past two quarters, excluding acquisitions, half the rate of a year ago.

Google, China’s No. 2 provider of Web search services behind domestic market leader Inc, also will increase promotional spending for its products such as Google Maps and its e-mail service called Gmail, Lee said.

“You will not see a Google advertisement on TV but you will see more and more promotions and advertisements about Google’s products at Chinese Web sites,” Lee said, describing how Google plans to rely on search ads instead of conventional marketing.

He said Google also would look to strike more profit-sharing partnerships with Web site operators along the lines of one it already has with Chinese Internet media site for news, advertising and search services.

The goal is for Google to boost its own online advertising revenue in China, where millions of young Chinese people are rapidly adopting Internet shopping, Lee said.

“Advertising is our core revenue in China, just like anywhere else for Google,” he said. “I believe online advertising in China has very big market potential.”

Google Web search advertising services brought in virtually all of the company’s $16.6 billion in revenue last year. It had 19,156 employees at the end of March, including around 1,500 that joined through its DoubleClick acquisition in March.

Lee’s remarks follow comments by Google Chairman and Chief Executive Eric Schmidt earlier this week of improved business in China. “We are seeing market share growth and good revenue growth as we have learned to operate in that environment,” he told investors on a conference call to discuss financial results.

Additional reporting by Eric Auchard and Lisa Baertlein; Editing by Eric Walsh