Microsoft Sues Google On Kai-Fu Lee Hiring

Microsoft Sues Google On Kai-Fu Lee Hiring

Google announced this week that they are planning to open up a research lab in China and have hired Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, former Corporate V.P. at Microsoft. Well, as you may know, there is one hot rivalry going on between Google and Microsoft at the moment and come to find out Google hired Kai-Fu Lee from Microsoft while Dr. Lee was possibly still under contract. Now Microsoft is suing Google and Kai-Fu Lee. The Seattle Times reports that Microsoft lawyer Tom Burt told them that Microsoft knew Lee was going to head an office for Google in China. However, Microsoft was taken back when they were not presented with a timeline for Lee’s departure and then read about it in a press release issued by Google on Tuesday.

Lee, who helped build the MSN Search Engine, is the highest ranking Microsoft employee to leave for “greener pastures” at Google. “Everybody I talked to [at Google] really has an incredible passion and excitement,” Lee told the Seattle Times, describing Google as “a very collegiate environment in which I think I can really amplify the ideas I have.”

Passion aside, the move to Google apparently breaks the contract Lee signed with Microsoft which included a non-compete where he cannot do any work that competes with Microsoft for one year. Seeing Lee’s new position at Google as a breach in contract, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against Lee and Google in King County Superior Court. “The job they hired him to do is absolutely in direct competition with the work he was doing at Microsoft,” Microsoft lawyer Tom Burt told the S.T. “Not only is it at a competitor, it’s directly competitive work.”

The Google China R&D center will open in the third quarter of 2005. The selection of Dr. Kai-Fu Lee to lead this important operation underscores Google’s commitment to building a successful Chinese product research and development center and to expanding its international business operations. “It has always been my goal to make advanced technologies accessible and useful to every user, as well as to be part of the vibrant growth and innovation in China today,” said Dr. Kai-Fu Lee. “Joining Google uniquely enables me to pursue both of my passions and I look forward to returning to China to begin this exciting endeavor.”

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker

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7 thoughts on “Microsoft Sues Google On Kai-Fu Lee Hiring

  1. Microsoft did not allow Kai-Fu Lee to continue in China. He should not be denied from practicing his trade at his desired location. His right to make a living, progress in professional development according to his personal circumstances is significant.

    Microsoft neglected utilizing his desire and ability to organize in China, stifling his creativity, should not complain when he
    betters himself.

    In addition, Ballmer’s chair throwing episode indicates a boss with a multiple personality. A good reason to get away from an idiot.

  2. Gernerally speaking, there is no way to avoid Dr. Lee joining Google now. Just what kind restrictions will be put on him and his resposibilities in Google. But more important thing one need to notice the intelligent war on the world. Microsoft, the biggest software company in the world is expanding fastly these days, in china especially. it opens a research center today in Shanghai and are going to recruite thousands people there. I personally do not think hr in Microsoft works well. See, the shanghai research center needs people urgently and need good persons acknowledge what’s going on outside. It’s impossibale to get so many qualified workers in one moment domestically. but see what they are doing. they r making the situation worse by still moving these kind people from China to US, insead sending some back! Acctually, those china locally educated and now temperorily working in US should be sent back immediaty, where really needs them and they can use full potential.