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Google’s quest for world domination of web search may have hit a speed bump in China today, following the resignation of Kai-Fu Lee, the founding president of Google China. The announcement comes as Google continues struggling to gain ground in a country where a majority of Internet users “Google” on

Though Lee issued a statement saying he felt he was leaving Google “with a very strong leadership team in place” and was ready to start a new venture he plans to announce on Monday, bloggers have been quick to speculate whether this sudden turn of events has more to do with Google’s China troubles. At the same time, Lee’s exit appears to be a part of a larger trend dubbed the Google Brain Drain by The Business Insider, and tech pundits are calculating the impact to Google’s bottom line.

Why the sudden split?

  • Numbers Talk, says Douglas McIntyre from Daily Finance. Google’s market share recently dropped back to below 30 percent in the second quarter, prompting McIntyre to say Lee “may be departing because, by several critical measurements, Google is a failure on the mainland.”
  • The Internet Is NOT for Porn, according to the Chinese government, which recently put up roadblocks for Google’s development in China after accusing the company of facilitating searches for pornography. Though Elliot Ng of CNReviews admits to having no evidence linking the resignation with this recent dispute, he says it deserves attention. “It is the most recent public, negative incident affecting Google in China.”

What does this mean going forward?

  • Watch Your Back, Google, warns Chris Thompson from The Big Money. “Lee’s departure will be a blow to Google’s ambitions in China; not only will it lose a talented vice president with a lot of Chinese contacts, but Lee reportedly plans to start a venture capital firm in Beijing, possibly competing with his old company.”

  • Stop Rocking the Boat, suggest Maija Palmer and Tim Bradshaw at Financial Times. “Plenty of prominent Googlers leave to form new start-ups … Twitter’s management team has spent time at Google. Perhaps Google itself needs to retain some of that entrepreneurial zeal if it is to finally crack the Chinese market.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.