Kai-fu Lee is a Chinese venture capitalist and popular microblogger best known for his role as founding president of Google China. He has also held high-technology executive positions at Apple, SGI and Microsoft. Born on December 3, 1961, Lee went on to create the world's first speaker-independent, continuous speech recognition system as his Ph.D. thesis at Carnegie Mellon. In 2009 he co-founded Innovation Works, a venture capital fund for Chinese internet start-ups. Taiwanese-born Lee, who has one of the largest social media followings in the world, lives in Beijing.
Ex-Google China chief Kai-fu Lee thanks online supporters after cancer diagnosis
Kai-fu Lee, founder of Innovation Works and one of China’s most influential social critics, is fighting cancer.
The 51-year-old former president of Google China issued a statement on Friday thanking his more than 51 million followers after revealing he had been diagnosed with lymphoma.
“I am touched after reading the warm comments you left for me,” Lee wrote on Friday, “although lymph cancer doesn’t sound optimistic and it makes my family and friends worried, this is life. It comes as a surprise, but I should face it calmly. Pain is part of life, I will face the ups and downs of life with a more positive attitude.”
Lee didn’t reveal more details about his illness.
On Thursday evening, he had mentioned in a Weibo post that he might have cancer. The news was soon confirmed by the co-founder of Innovation Works, Wang Zhaohui.
China’s net users have posted hundreds of thousands of messages on Lee’s Weibo page since last night. Sympathy and support were offered as netizens encouraged Lee to battle the disease.
“When I visited Innovation Works months ago, I was surprised that a tiny, nondescript room turned out to be Lee’s office,” wrote popular blogger Han Han on Weibo on Friday. “He has been working hard to make this world a better place, and has done his best to empower China’s young men. I sincerely wish Kai-fu will recover and go on with his life soon.”
“Doctors told me cancer is now considered a chronic disease - it will be a long battle for you,“ wrote property tycoon and star blogger Pan Shiyi. “Please take care, Kai-fu.”
In a recent interview with the South China Morning Post Lee gave an insight into his life, saying: "I sleep at 10pm. I don't drink, and I don't know any [government] officials in intimate ways."
A liberal-minded opinion leader on China’s social media, Lee - along with American venture capitalist Charles Xue - ranks among some of China's most influential “Big V” internet celebrities.
Xue was detained last month by Beijing police for suspected involvement in prostitution. Since then, the central government's campaign against online "rumour mongering" appears to have widened further with more reports of arrests, detentions and website closures.
Emails sent to Lee and Innovation works by the Post were not replied on Friday.
Born: Taipei, December 3, 1961
Education: Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon University
Career: Apple, principal research scientist, (1990-96); Silicon Graphics, vice-president, web products division (1996-97), president, multimedia software division (1997-98); Microsoft Research China, founder (1998-2000); Microsoft US, vice-president, interactive services division (2000-2005); Google, head of China (2005-2009); Innovation Works, founder and CEO (2009-)