Fast Search to double staff in Greater China

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2007, 12:00am


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Fast Search & Transfer, a Norway-listed online search engine, said it would double the number of employees in Greater China to benefit from strong growth in the economy and the increasing popularity of online search activities in the region.

'We will set up offices soon in Shanghai and Beijing,' said Fast Search chief executive John Lervik. He added that the company would 'double' its headcount from the current dozen or so staff members in the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Globally, the company has 730 employees.

The company's mainland clients include Lenovo Group, the world's third-largest personal computer maker;, a mainland news website; and Sevenmedia Corp, an outdoor advertising agent.

'We started our business in Japan five to six years ago and gained a lot of experience, such as in mobile search technology which is applicable in the mainland market,' said Mr Lervik. 'We saw business opportunities in e-commerce as well as the financial, telecom and media sectors in the mainland.'

Fast Search will work with mainland partners to solve the linguistic problems and adopt software applications, he said.

Founded in 1997, the Oslo-based company is focused on enterprise real-time data search technologies and offers an enterprise search platform (ESP) to help enterprises boost revenue and improve production efficiency. It was the founder-owner of search-engine AlltheWeb which was sold to Overture in 2003 and is now part of Yahoo! Inc.

Company sales rose 62 per cent to US$162.6 million last year but net profit fell 53 per cent to US$3.4 million due to a segment loss of US$7.1 million in the United States.

In 2006, Asia-Pacific revenue accounted for 19 per cent of total sales while revenue from the US and Europe accounted for 36 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.

'Asia Pacific will account for more than 20 per cent of our total sales next year while the US and Europe will share the rest equally,' Mr Lervik predicted. 'Besides the mainland, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia will also have strong growth.'

Mr Lervik said the enterprise search market is a niche area that search engine giants Google and Yahoo cannot easily enter.

The company's enterprise search solutions are now deployed at 4,100 customer sites in countries including Brazil, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the US.

Mr Lervik said the company would consider listing overseas, such as in Hong Kong, Tokyo or on the Nasdaq but has yet to make a decision.