After a nearly five month search, Microsoft Corp. on Thursday said it has found a new executive to lead its charge against Google Inc. in the online search and advertising business: Qi Lu, a technologist who was previously a top executive at Yahoo Inc.
The move represents a switching of teams for Dr. Lu, whose former employer was the target of a $47.5 billion acquisition offer that Microsoft abandoned earlier this year. When he begins work as president of the online services group at the Redmond, Wash., company on Jan. 5, Dr. Lu, 47 years old, will face the formidable task of improving Microsoft from a distant third place position in Internet search, behind Google and Yahoo. His familiarity with Yahoo could make that easier if Microsoft is able to strike a deal to acquire Yahoo’s search business, as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said he’s keen to do.
In the first joint interview together, Mr. Ballmer and Dr. Lu on Friday morning discussed their plan for making Microsoft more competitive on the Internet. Mr. Ballmer also reiterated his interest in acquiring in Yahoo’s search business and how it would be better for both companies if they can do a deal “sooner than later.”