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Dr. ZhaoHui Tang, President and CEO of adSage

“It’s true. I took the famous photo of Gary Locke. That was me. I am maybe the most unknown famous photographer in China.”

~Dr. ZhaoHui (Gordon) Tang, President and CEO, adSage

Dr. ZhaoHui Tang is the President and CEO of adSage.  He helped the company raise $20 million in venture capital from SIG Asia and Meridian Capital. Formerly with Microsoft, Dr. Tang formally joined adSage as CEO in 2009.

Dr. Tang is a native of Shanghai, where he graduated from Shanghai Jiaotong University. He received his Doctoral Degree in INRIA and PRiSM Lab in France with numerous papers published in academic and industrial journals. He takes part in database, Business Intelligence and Search Engine Conferences, including many speaking engagements. Dr. Tang co-authored books including Data Mining with SQL Server 2005 and Data Mining with SQL Server 2008. He holds 25 US patents in the field of Data Mining and Search Engine technology.

Q: What has been your career path prior to adSage?

A: At Microsoft Corporation, I was Lead Program Manager of the Business Intelligence team for SQL Server from 1999 to 2005. Beginning in 2006, I took part in building adCenter Lab. Then, I was its Principal Program Manager, taking charge of several key projects in the field of Relevance and Revenue of Paid Search/Context Ads. At the same time, I invented the Keyword Service Platform which is the first web service platform focusing on the keyword technique.

Q: How did all this begin, the idea for your company?

A: Three others and I already had good relation with Baidu and expertise in this market. Our idea was to expand the advertising buy market on Baidu, with a percentage of the revenue to adSage.

In this highly technical business, there are too many variables such as prices and selection choices. Our software is designed to provide automatic, better solutions to improve cost per acquisition (CPA).

It is a bid-auction system. Thousands of variables are constantly changing. The auction can be thought of as a continually flowing river that is never the same. It is a perfect situation for mathematical modeling to solve the questions. Enterprise software today seeks to manage this complexity, and to make decisions more data-driven, objective and efficient.

Q: What new opportunities do you see for yourself in China or other parts of Asia?

A: The search engine marketing business, consumer demand in China, and the interest of US companies to reach China’s consumers continues to grow steadily. More purchasing in all categories is taking place, including luxury hotels, computers, mobile communication devices, and more. Chinese companies are also trying to reach more American consumers such as in travel and tourism.

Q: Do you see any obstacles to doing business in China?

A: The cultural difference between the West and East are certainly a major challenge for any company that wants to do business in China. A strong partner like adSage can help companies, willing to open themselves for new opportunities, to gain a sure foothold and assure their long lasting success in China.

Understanding both US advertisers and Chinese consumer behavior is crucial for winning the success across Pacific.

Q: How has living in Washington benefited your education or career?

A: I have lived here more than 10 years. Bellevue-Seattle is one of the best places in the US to keep pace with high-tech and build a professional and extensive network for business.

Q: Why did you locate your North American headquarters here?

A: One reason is Microsoft; that is where I started, and I have a nice house here. A second is the ecosystem – very easy to find and keep high quality talented workers here.

Q: How has being located in Washington State benefited your business?

A: Washington is a region with a high density of high-tech industries. adSage profits from this technological environment. As there are many businesses with a similar mindset as adSage present in Washington, it is easier to build a highly professional and extensive business network. This includes Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, University of Washington and many, many more.

It is also extremely good for business that there are direct flights from Seattle to Beijing on Hainan and Delta. Seattle is closest location in USA to China. Downtown Bellevue is less than 30 minutes to the airport. My wife and I travel to China all the time, to Beijing or Shanghai, both for work and family reasons.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory about living here?

A: Every day is full of joy and life is very interesting here. For children, there are many activities and education is one of the best in Bellevue.

Q: BellevueCN has heard you have a famous story from your air travels. What is that?

A: In August 2011, I was flying to California for a business meeting. My wife, who is a Medical Doctor at the University of Washington, was going with me to attend a medical conference. We saw Ambassador Gary Locke on his way to China. He was lined up at Starbucks.

So I took his photo on my phone. Then, I put it on Weibo and boarded my flight. Gary Locke was carrying his own luggage and tried to buy coffee with a coupon but was refused. This caused quite a controversy in China, because this is not the typical view of a US Ambassador or other high level government person.

By takeoff there were 100 tweets, more than 500 by the time the airplane landed 2 hours later. My airline provides in-flight internet access, but there were too many to read while in flight. I was amazed.

In two days, the number was 50,000 and news agencies had picked up the photo and story. It was really popular. A lot of people were really surprised. Ultimately, most of China and much of America knew the story, but it only said anonymous or unknown person took the photo.

It’s true. I took the famous photo of Gary Locke. That was me. I am maybe the most unknown famous photographer in China.

Q: Had you met Ambassador Gary Locke in the past?

I had met Gary Locke before this in Bellevue, but I don’t know him well. I jokingly wonder if maybe he will remember my name now, if he learns that I took the photo.

Q: Do you think BellevueCN is valuable?

A: Yes, very much. You should let adSage be a sponsor. Let’s talk about making this happen.

BellevueCN is a window for Bellevue into China and a window for people in China to the USA. People in China know Seattle. Not enough know Bellevue and that Bellevue is the center of technology and Chinese businesses.

Q: How does this connect with your long-term goal?

A: Our long time goal is to link China and the world with our unique advertising services. We seek to bridge cultures and to do our part in a globalized new world. The new generation strives for a better understanding and acceptance of individual cultures and technological progress.

I like Bellevue as a location for global business. I am not afraid to share this secret.

This is a perfect place for a Chinese technology company to set up a US headquarters or Research and Development Centers. Everything here is very high quality. In particular, engineering, mobile communications, and other types of technology talent are excellent. Employee retention is 5 to 10 years compared to one year in China.

I think Bellevue and the China relationship will grow. The community and standard of life is very high quality, including clean air, clean water, best schools, easy traffic, and very safe for families. The business ecosystem is excellent. New venture capital will be attracted here, and success rates will be very high.

Click here to read the Company Profile of adSage on

Click here to read the BellevueCN profile of Gary Locke, U.S. Ambassador to China.

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