The former president of Google China says that the search giant will have a tough time competing against the new generation of Chinese tech firms should it embark upon a return to the Middle Kingdom market.
Google recently confirmed plans to re-launch its search engine in China, after withdrawing from the market in 2010 due to concerns over Beijing’s censorship policies.
Speaking at the Disrupt 2018 conference in San Francisco, Kai-Fu Lee said that the current crop of Google executives lack the mettle to compete against the tech companies that fought their way to the top of China’s Darwinian internet market.
“The heads of multinationals are really just professional managers,” said Lee according to a report from Business Insider. “If they were to compete against local entrepreneurs who are gladiators in this coliseum I don’t think the American companies will have a chance of succeeding.”
Lee worked at Google from 2005 to 2009, and was formerly the president of Google China. He currently heads $2 billion dual currency investment fund Sinovation Ventures.
According to Lee the Chinese internet and tech sectors have undergone rapid evolution during the eight years since Google withdrew from the market.
“The entire dynamics are different…people aren’t looking for another search engine or an app store.
“New companies are emerging and addressing previously unknown customer needs. Innovations are coming out. The new grads generally prefer to work for Chinese companies.
“The bigger issue really is can an American multinational succeed in China now that China has bifurcated into this parallel universe.”