Twitter hires Google executive: Asia as its next target?

Twitter snags a former Google Asia executive, who will start later this year, suggesting a potential push into Asia for the company.
Written by Hana Stewart-Smith, Contributor

Shailesh Rao, managing director of Google India, and leader of Google's display advertising sales in Asia, will be joining the Twitter team later this year.

Twitter spokesman Matt Graves confirmed to Bloomberg that Rao would be joining the company to work with the "advertising side of the business".

The move was also partially verified by a spokesperson from Google, who confirmed that Rao had left the company.

Rao's experience with handling Asian markets has suggested to many that his hiring might be indicative of Twitter targeting a push in Asia in the coming months.

Although Twitter is banned in China, Twitter's controversial new 'country-by-country' restriction of content might make a future presence in China a possibility for the micro-blogging company.

The policy has already been publicly endorsed by Thailand's government for its ability to enforce their strict lése-majesté laws, which protect the country's Royal Family from criticism.

Twitter's potential censorship has been a cause for concern in the West, but for countries like China who strictly police online content, it could allow the company to expand their business to a huge new audience.

Twitter, which reached 100 million users globally at the end of last year, is already incredibly popular in the major Asian markets Japan and Indonesia, which ranked third and fifth respectively, in a recent study of highest concentration of users by country.

Twitter announced a partnership with Japan's biggest "real identity" social network Mixi at the end of last year, continuing to fuel its popularity in the area.

China, however, might be a less welcoming market for Twitter even if it is unblocked.

It already has its own major micro-blogging network in Sina Weibo, which has over 250 million users compared to Twitter's existing 100 million. If Twitter did have plans to expand into China they would still face fierce competition from an established rival.


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