The NY Times offers an extensive and flattering profile of the former Yahoo EVP Qi Lu who, in January, 2009 was named president of online services for Microsoft. Lu was deemed an unlikely appointment by some given his background not as a business and advertising executive but rather as an engineer. However, he was apparently instrumental in helping facilitate the Yahoo-Microsoft search deal.
One of the striking things about the article is the uniform praise Lu receives from former Yahoo colleages and Google’s Udi Manber: “He is probably the best competition I can have.” The other is Lu’s devotion to his work:
He sleeps three to four hours a night. One most weekdays, he wakes up around 4 a.m., goes through his e-mail and runs four miles on a treadmill while listening to classical music or watching the news.
He prefers to be in his office between 5 and 6 a.m. to have uninterrupted time to prepare for his day. He is often sending e-mail to his staff until midnight or later. (Mr. Lu, who is married and has two daughters, reserves much of the weekend to spend with his family.)
(As a personal, editorial aside I would submit that while Mr. Lu is to be admired for his loyalty and devotion to his work, I hope Microsoft isn’t setting his work habits up as a model for others to emulate.)
Reportedly Lu sees his work at Microsoft as an opportunity to continue a mission in search he began at Yahoo. While the cultures of Yahoo and Microsoft are different, perhaps the most important difference at Microsoft is that Lu and his team have far more resources to bring to bear on search than he did previously.
The division Lu heads up, which houses search and online advertising, is a strategic but money losing business unit for Microsoft. No doubt Lu is under some pressure to improve the performance of that group and would ultimately be held accountable if it does not.
For its part, Bing is off to a solid start. That fact and the Yahoo deal offers Microsoft the best chance it’s had in years to make a competitive run at Google.
I blogged the keynote interview with Lu from SMX Advanced in June of this year.