Tim Chen, Microsoft's top executive in China, jumped ship to head to the National Basketball League's operations in China, the NBA said today.
DEAN RUTZ/SEATTLE TIMES
Tim Chen will be seeing a lot more of Yao Ming.
Before he joined Microsoft, Chen led Motorola's China operations. He's a well known executive in the country and was undoubtedly sought after by many companies.
At Microsoft, Chen helped the company make progress on intellectual property issues in China, including inking partnerships with PC makers and successfully pushing for a law that requires new computers to be sold with authentic preinstalled operating system software.
He also helped host Chinese President Hu Jintao in carefully scripted visits to Microsoft and dinner at Bill Gates' home.
Chen starts with the NBA on Oct. 15, so Microsoft is searching for his replacement and has named Ya-Qin Zhang as acting CEO in the meantime.
Zhang heads the company's R&D group in China.
Chen's departure follows those of Kai-Fu Lee, whose move to Google sparked a lawsuit between Microsoft and the search giant, and Jun Tang, a basketball player himself, who left his job as president of Microsoft China to join online game company Shanda Interactive Entertainment.
This story says Chen's move illustrates Microsoft's difficulty hanging on to executives in the world's fastest growing economy. I'd say it illustrates any multinational company's dilemma with job-hopping executives there, since the number of opportunities far outweighs the number of capable high-level managers in China.