Microsoft loses top executive in China

Li Gong is leaving the software giant to return home, CNET has learned.

Li Gong, one of Microsoft's top executives in China, is leaving the software maker, CNET has learned.

Gong on Wednesday told that he would be leaving Microsoft in two weeks and that he planned to "go home." Outside of saying he would return to Beijing, he declined to elaborate on what his plans are.

Li Gong
Li Gong

"Li Gong is currently exploring other career opportunities," Microsoft said in a statement to "Microsoft greatly appreciate Li's contribution to Windows Live China and supports his decision. We believe that the leadership, strong team and long term commitment to innovation will continue to drive Microsoft forward in China."

Gong joined Microsoft in 2005 from Sun Microsystems, where he had served as both head of Sun's China research efforts and as a chief architect of Java. In a September 2005 Business Weekinterview, Ballmer touted Gong as one of several key hires that Microsoft had made.

Most recently, Gong has served as managing director of Windows Live China and as vice president of Microsoft China R&D Group.

Gong's name came up in the case over Kai-Fu Lee, the top Microsoft executive whose hiring by Google sparked a multistate legal battle. In Microsoft legal documents, the software maker said that Lee recommended Gong be hired quickly, in part because he may have already been approached by Google.

Lee e-mailed colleagues about Gong on May 6, 2005: "There was some indirect suggestion that he may have talked to Google about starting a China operations (sic). So we should move quickly."

According to court papers, the next day Lee e-mailed Google CEO Eric Schmidt, saying he heard that Google was starting a China effort.

Google announced in July 2005 that it was hiring Lee. Microsoft immediately filed suit in Washington state court. Google later countersued in California court. Microsoft settled with Google in December 2005, without releasing terms of the pact.

The software maker said Gong's responsibilities have been picked up by Friedbert Wall, a 15-year Microsoft veteran. Wall, who was previously the senior director for Windows Live China Shanghai, has been named managing director of Windows Live China.

CNET's Joris Evers contributed to this report.

Featured Video
This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.

The one thing every refrigerator owner should know

One key factor determines how long your food stays fresh (and how much you end up wasting). Sharon Profis shares a few refrigerator organization tips everyone should know on "You're Doing it All Wrong."

by Sharon Profis