Microsoft’s hiring of a senior executive in China for its talent network and a senior global talent executive to oversee its Asia-Pacific operations was announced Wednesday, a major milestone for Microsoft’s global efforts to attract talent.
The announcement came in a press release from Microsoft in Shanghai.
Microsoft said that Richard Branson, who joined Microsoft in 1998, will be “responsible for managing Microsoft’s workforce, recruiting talent, and developing and launching new business partnerships.”
Branson has long been a fan of Microsoft, a pioneer in cloud computing and a global technology leader.
Branson and his company Virgin Group made a deal to build a cloud-based, Internet-enabled data center in Hong Kong, and Microsoft invested $100 million to buy the company in 2014.
Branson also had a strong interest in technology at a young age, and he was known as a “digital nomad” in his youth, according to a biography on his website.
Brancos interest in the Internet and technology was a key component of Microsoft’s early attempts to win over young talent.
In 1999, the company made a bid for Yahoo, a company it had acquired for $1.1 billion in 2002.
The deal ultimately failed.
In 2005, Branson sold the company he had co-founded to Yahoo for $8.8 billion.
Branches of the company that include Skype, Microsoft Office, and its Surface tablet business also grew under Branson.
Microsoft said in its announcement that Branson’s appointment will “provide the strategic leadership and talent expertise necessary to accelerate our growth and our ability to deliver exceptional results to our customers.”
Brancans appointment comes as Microsoft seeks to diversify its workforce and improve its global performance.
The company is looking to recruit more than 1,000 more engineers, executives, and other talent in its Asia Pacific, Europe, and Latin America offices as part of its efforts to build out a global talent pool.