Google opens Israel branch

Google appointed Meir Brand as Israel country manager. He previously worked for AOL and Microsoft.

Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) today announced that it was setting up a branch in Israel as part of the expansion of its international activities.

Google said that this important addition to Google’s deployment of offices worldwide would enable the company to go on providing Israeli surfers, advertisers and partners with a search experience and advertising services via its search engine.

Google also announced that it appointed Meir Brand as Google Israel country manager, and the company’s first employee in Israel. Brand has extensive business and marketing experience. He has worked Microsoft Israel’s marketing department as the manager of the small business sector. He previously worked for ICQ (sold to AOL), for Internet search company Excite, and for Booz Allen & Hamilton. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Google has been active in Israel since 2002. It decided to open a branch in Israel in order to expand its activities here. It will build a content-rich portal at Google.co.il, similar to local sites in other countries. For this purpose, it will need many more Israeli advertisers. The Google.co.il website currently relies solely on its search engine, and does not provide e-mail, price comparisons, news links, or local information, in contrast to Google.com and local websites in European countries.

Google Israel plans to initially focus on its improving directed advertisements in its search engine, and on selling services to the Israeli advertising market. The company therefore first intends to hire are people with connections to Israeli advertisers. Only a handful of people will be hired at this stage. Google’s Europe office is now responsible for advertising on Google.co.il, accepting orders from Israel for advertisements by fax or e-mail. According plan, Israeli advertisers will be able to place orders directly with Google Israel by the end of this year.

Microsoft operates msn.co.il, an Israeli portal with a range of content, e-mail and instant messaging services, and a search engine. Israel’s leading portals are all local ones: Ynet; Walla! and NRG, which specializes in news; Nana!, which has a unique sites guide; and Tapuz, which is based on community content. Most of these portals are financed by advertising.

Google confirmed that Brand had been appointed country manager, but declined to comment on the other subjects. Microsoft also declined to respond.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on September 8, 2005

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