8.11. THE BATTLE FOR BRAINPOWER

Kai-Fu Lee, a Chinese-born computer scientist, got caught in Google/Microsoft crossfire as the two companies battled for his services. Lee was Microsoft's vice president of interactive services when, in 2005, he was lured away to establish Google China. Microsoft sued Google, saying that Lee was in violation of a one-year noncompete-clause agreement he had signed with Microsoft. The courts allowed Lee to go to work for Google but prevented him from participating in projects that overlapped with Microsoft's until the case was settled. Microsoft and Google settled out of court, and Lee stayed with Google in China.

According to the Zdnet website, Lee wrote a letter in Chinese explaining that "Microsoft is an outstanding company, and there are many things we can learn from it. But Google is a company that makes me feel a shock. The reason Google gives me a shock is the passion for creating a new generation of technology. I found treasures in Google everywhere. The technology and products are way beyond just the search."

At the end of the letter, Lee gave his formula for why Google was his choice:

youth + freedom + transparency + new model + the general public's benefit + belief in trust = The Miracle of Google[]

The Internet and all of its trillions of websites, including Google, represent intellectual capital. The tangible assets of companies like Google are negligible compared to their precious inventories of brains and imagination.

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