Google Plans to Set up Research Center in South Korea

October 17, 2006 0

Amid reports of a successful nuclear test by the North Korean government, Google lately went ahead with plans to launch a new R&D center on Korean soil.

Internet search giant Google Inc., responded to the revelation of new North Korean nuclear testing with an announcement outlining plans to open a new research and development facility on Korean soil to hire local employees and develop online services and technology for global markets, the commerce ministry and the company said in a statement.

The first foreign investment announced after North Korea’s nuclear test will start from a minimum of $10 million for the first two years and "the amount will be significantly increased in the long-term," Google officials said.

The same source went on to add, "Google views Korea as one of the most technologically advanced markets in the world, and we would like to recruit the best Korean technical talent possible to develop innovative technologies to better serve our users locally and globally."

“There is no change in our intention to invest in the Korean market despite North Korea’s nuclear test,” said Alan Eustace, Google’s senior vice president of engineering.

We would have proceeded with the investment even if the nuke test was announced earlier as we are committed to the Korean market which brings us both business potential and an abundance of high-skilled IT human resources.

The Korea R&D center is the latest addition to a growing number of global engineering offices, which include the UK, Israel, Norway, Japan, Switzerland, India, Russia, Australia, and the Americas.

"At Google, we feel that there are great software engineers worldwide, and we want them to join us in delivering the best search experience for users. Continuous innovative R&D is an important underpinning in developing high quality search products."

Korea is one of the most technologically advanced markets in the world, and we are pleased with the support we received from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency to establish our engineering presence.

“Now we will have the chance to experience and learn Google’s advanced technology and know-how,” said Commerce Minister Chung Sye-kyun. “We hope Korea will become a global R&D hub.”

Google’s R&D center in Korea enables us to recruit local computer scientists to further develop innovative search technologies for Korean users and users around the world, said Eustace. "Our primary goal is to recruit the highest quality technical talent in Korea, and this will be an ongoing investment as we grow our operations in Korea," he added.

"Google plans to invest $10 million in the engineering R&D center over the next two years, and the Korean government will invest 1.25 billion won ($1.3 million) in the facility during the same period," Hong Ki-hwa, president and chief executive of KOTRA, South Korea’s trade promotion agency, said at a joint signing ceremony in Seoul.

Google’s Eustace said growth potential in South Korea, the country’s world-class engineers, and the South Korean government’s strong encouragement all influenced the company to make the investment.

Google has not yet decided on when to set up the facility but it has already started hiring engineers.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google will set up the center, which will hire 134 South Korean employees, in cooperation with the commerce ministry and KOTRA.

"We will continue to make a significant investment in the business and engineering center, depending on the growth potential of the Internet business here in Korea," Eustace told reporters, without elaborating.

So far, however, it has lagged local Internet search engines such as NHN Corp.’s dominant Naver Web site, because users in South Korea say they have better adapted to factors specific to the local market, such as more reliance on human interaction instead of software in getting search results.

As for possible mergers and acquisitions of Korean IT companies, Eustace said Google would consider direct partnerships first but no detailed plans have been made yet.