Meet Startup @TW

Xoogler Lee-Feng Chien joins Appier and iKala as board member


Soon after he retired as the managing director at Google Taiwan, Dr. Lee-Feng Chien joined Appier and iKala as board member, as revealed by the two AI companies yesterday.

In 2006, he joined Google Taiwan as the first employee and since then has stood at the helm of the subsidiary for the following 14 years. As the managing director, he expands Google’s operations, prompts it to ramp up investment in Taiwan, and leads Google Taiwan to become one of its largest R&D centers in Asia.

Last year, the American tech giant had announced plans to set up a data center in Tainan to support its growth in the Asia-Pacific region, following the inauguration of the same facility in Changhua six years ago.

Over the course of Dr. Chien’s 14 years in office, Google Taiwan has grown into a firm of more than 2,000 employees and 6 offices across the island, in Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Chunghua, and Tainan.

He used to serve in Taiwan’s national academy Academia Sinica as a research fellow and deputy director of the Institute of Information Science and at the same time, work as a professor the department of information management of National Taiwan University and as a technical advisor at Microsoft Research Asia.

With well-known expertise in artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and data search and processing, Dr. Chien has been mentoring entrepreneurs in Taiwan for years, including Appier's Chih-Han Yu and iKala's Sega Cheng; both of them are co-founder and CEO of their company. According to Appier’s press release, “his business acumen, thorough thinking, and precise judgment have helped many growing companies succeed.”

Lee-Feng Chien & Appier's CEO Chih-Han Yu

“Dr. Chien is a proven and distinguished technology expert,” said Mr. Yu. “We are happy to welcome him as our independent board member and to leverage his significant industry know-how in driving Appier’s continued success and long-term growth.”

Not long ago, Appier had just raised US$80M Series D round, pushing its VC funding to the tune of $162M.

Dr. Chien is looking forward to his new role as a board member, too. “I’ve witnessed Appier’s growth since its early days and have been impressed by its success and the resilience and vision of the founding team,” he said. “Appier, as a leader in AI solutions, will be part of transforming Taiwan into a human capital-oriented business landscape.”

His optimism about the future of AI application couldn’t be more clear, given that he chose to join two AI companies less than a month after retiring from Google. “Taiwan has a great opportunity in AI development, thanks to its legacy in hardware manufacturing and the increasing strength of the software industry,” he said.

In his conversation with iKala's CEO Sega Cheng, Dr. Chien stressed the importance for Taiwanese companies to be adventurous as entrepreneurs of the previous generations.

“He (Dr. Chien) said Taiwan is surrounded by sea and short of natural resources. We can only survive with a global mindset,” said Mr. Cheng. “That’s why he greatly appreciates iKala’s move to expand into Southeast Asia.” The nine-year-old company now operates in Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam.

"It is our honour to have Dr. Chien in our board,” said Mr. Cheng. “We hope iKala can accelerate its global expansion and growth with his international perspective and strong industry experience.”

“With the rapid rise of cross-border social commerce in Asia, iKala aims to provide even more pioneering AI commerce services in this field,” according to the firm’s press release.


Bryan Chou

Bryan Chou is a Taiwan-based and born journalist who writes about innovation and entrepreneurship for Business Next and Meet. Over the past five years, he has written for a student press, translated numerous magazine pieces, and worked as an intern in two startups. He believes what shapes him into who he is today is not only these experiences but the people he has interacted with and the stories he has learned from them.

He has a BA in Foreign languages and literatures from NTU. After graduation, he spent a year in Prague, traveling extensively around Europe to learn about the history and culture of the region from local people. Currently based in Taipei, he hopes to present the best of Taiwan to the world.