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Assistant General Manager, Online Media Products
Tencent Holdings, Beijing
Egan Lau, BS 97 (Engineering), MBA 04, holds up a cell phone
displaying an advertisement on instant messaging platform QQ,
owned by Tencent Holdings, where Lau is assistant general manager
of online media products.
Every day 100 million people see these advertisements, Lau says, noting that prior to his 2009 arrival at Tencent, one of China's largest Internet portals, the company didn't have mobile ads. Lau has spent the past two years at Tencent, sometimes called the Facebook of China, helping to build new advertising products and display formats to help marketers promote their wares through the company's popular games and chat forums. (Penguins are the company's mascots.)
There's more to be done at Tencent to revolutionize its ad operations, the Hong Kong native says, but if there's a place where change can happen, it's China. Digital marketing, while thriving in China, has yet to reach the level of sophistication in the U.S. market, Lau says, adding that marketers in China still buy time on websites as they did in the U.S. in the late 1990s. But Lau believes he is in a position to modernize an outdated, yet booming market. China's ad industry is soon expected to become the world's third largest, overtaking Germany to fall behind only Japan and the U.S.
"There's an opportunity here to change an entire industry," Lau says. "That kind of door doesn't open every day in the U.S."
That opportunity trumps the noise and pollution Lau faces commuting to work each day in an area of Beijing that is similar to New York's Madison Avenue, he says. Still, Lau can't help but miss clean Berkeley skies, open space, and the more laid-back California lifestyle.
Maintaining his connection to Berkeley-Haas, Lau is president of the Haas Alumni Network Beijing Chapter and advises fellow alumni who are considering relocation in China. Without any hesitation, Lau says, "My door is always open to anyone who wants to see all sides of living here before they make the big move." —Laurie Burkitt