Google hiring in Southeast Asia

Search giant opens new Singapore office, which serves as its Southeast Asia hub; unveils plans for an engineering center in the country. But, details remain scant.

SINGAPORE--Google officially opened Thursday its new office in the country, which executives said will serve as a hub for its advertisers and partners in the Southeast Asian region, including Australia and New Zealand.

Richard Kimber, Google's regional managing director for India and Southeast Asia, added that the search giant plans to form an engineering center here and is currently looking to hire a site director to lead the development team.

Australia-based Kimber, however, declined to reveal exactly how large the engineering team will be, mooting possibilities that it could be as small as 10 or as large as 100, depending on the company's growth plans.

But he did indicate that the mobile platform will likely be "a big focus" for the research and development team here, given the high mobile penetration rate in the Asia-Pacific region.

Lori Sobel, Google's Singapore head of sales, noted that there are over 119 million mobile phone users in the region, with Singapore boasting a particularly high mobile penetration rate.

As mobile devices increasingly become an entry point to the Internet, Kimber said, Google believes the mobile platform will emerge as a great way for users in Asia to access and search for content on the Web.

However, he promptly added that the strong focus on mobile does not exclude the new engineering team in Singapore from initiating development work in other key areas, including local language support and applications that are relevant to the local markets.

Kimber declined to say how much Google has invested, or plans to invest, in its Singapore office. He also declined to say just how many employees the company has hired, though Sobel indicated that it currently has "several dozens" in its headcount here and is still looking to add new hires.

Google's corporate site listed some 20 job vacancies in its Singapore office, with positions that include engineering center director, IT field technician, AdWords and client services associates and online sales managers.

Kimber noted that the search giant has also not ruled out the possibility of acquiring companies in the Asia-Pacific region, adding that acquisitions are part of the company's overall global strategy.

But he added that the search company's primary goal is still to grow organically and will continue to hire new people.

Last month, Google unveiled plans to buy online ad company DoubleClick in a US$3.1 billion deal--its biggest acquisition to date.