When you think of internet in the Czech Republic, which company immediately springs to mind? You’d probably say Seznam.cz, but Google has rapidly crept up and now has 50% of the search engine share. Presiding over this development has been Taťána le Moigne, head of Google Česká republika.
Educated at the Czech University of Economy, le Moigne has a background in sales and marketing, and progressed to Google Česká republika, where she has been CEO since the firm was established, in 2006. In addition, le Moigne founded 4bambini, which produces educational games for children, a role she manages to squeeze into her busy schedule. Le Moigne also has an international perspective that many expats will relate to. She has lived in the United Kingdom and Germany and is married to a Frenchman. Expats spoke to her about these varied aspects of her life.
We interviewed her at her office in the Czech “Silicon Valley” in Prague’s Anděl district. She was rushing between appointments in a full diary and didn’t have much time, but we covered Google in the Czech Republic in detail, and among other things, her children’s games project and the Czech business environment.
Google started off very small in this country, and at the beginning had a search share of 10/15%. How have you achieved such success?
“The Czech Republic is also one of the smaller countries where we have a presence, and at the beginning we had only five products localized: Desktop, Picasa, Gmail, Google Search and Adwords. Our small size is underlined by the fact that online sellers Ebay and Amazon don’t operate in the country. But today we have a 50% share in search queries, equal with Seznam.cz. Although we number only 25 staff members, we’ve grown tremendously and provide a large range of services. Today, Google offers 120+ services in the Czech Republic, including very innovative products such as Voice Search or StreetView.
“We adopted a different strategy to gain access to the Czech market. Elsewhere, we opened an office and sold advertisements, but in the Czech Republic we focused on product innovation first. We also worked on the quality of searches and spent the first year introducing a new innovation every day. Google Czech Republic got the basics right and then launched features such as voice and mobile services, followed by Google Maps, Google Apps and more. Google Analytics, which helps companies to measure their investments down to the last crown, is also available in the Czech Republic.
“An important element in our success is also Youtube, which Google bought in 2006. Companies know that Youtube is the largest video server in the Czech Republic and therefore a key tool in reaching potential customers. Youtube is a channel that complements television very well – the profile of a television viewer and a Youtube user isn’t always the same. In short, today at Google we offer complete integrated online digital solution to our clients: starting with search ads, display ads, video & mobile ads. Advertisers are more demanding today, requiring transparency over their marketing budgets, expecting measurable performance and of course, positive return of investment for their money. Our aim is to deliver all of this, nothing less.”
How is Google.cz involved in start-ups and sponsorships?
“We’re involved in three main ways. Firstly, we have a project called Google for Czech Society, in which we support Czech culture. For example, we’ve cooperated with the Museum Kampa gallery of modern art, and we’re also digitizing the records of the Czech National Library.
“Secondly, we support the developer community, and as an engineering company, we’ve an obvious interest in doing so. Over the last five years, we’ve held four conferences for developers, who arrived not just from the Czech Republic but from the Central European Region. We also support start-up projects, such as Hub Praha, and help young entrepreneurs who have all the technical knowhow but are not quite ready for the business world.
“Thirdly, we’re involved in charitable activities through Google Grants program.”
You’re the CEO of a Czech company, but relatively few Czech women are in such positions. What do you think needs to be done to change the situation?
“I think that Czech women should be more confident, they should believe that they are really good. Because they are. Of course, things get difficult sometimes and you need to make a decision and move on, take a risk sometimes. But if you do things that make sense to you, it enables you to have an impact, to change things for what you believe is better. But it’s not just about being successful – it is very much about loving what you do. And being surrounded by people you respect. When you love your work, you’re naturally more motivated and so you can therefore have more influence. And if you make it to a high position, you gain credibility and in turn can have even greater influence.”
You’ve worked and lived abroad. How does the Czech business environment compare that with of Germany or the UK?
“I’ve been really impressed by the quality of the Czech workforce. When you think of it, this country has had only forty years over the last three hundred to really develop, to find its own identity. Firstly there was the twenty-year interwar period, coinciding with the first Czechoslovak Republic, and twenty years have elapsed since the fall of Communism. But we’ve got an educated population, a strong industrial tradition, and today we can boast of our strengths, for example, in the information technology sector.”
As well as being CEO of Google in the Czech Republic, you are the head of 4bambini? How did that come about?
“I spent seven years of my career abroad, in Munich and London, and after I came back I had my first child. It took some time to adjust to being back in the Czech Republic, and one of the things I noticed was that courtesies such as “please” and “thank you” seemed less common among Czech children. Elsewhere, such behavior seemed to be in the genes. I felt that it was important to bring attention to this issue because politeness is what helps make a well-rounded person. I was also getting tired of telling my child to say “please” and “thank you” all the time.
“I had the idea of promoting proper behavior through games, so the children could learn and have fun at the same time. The games are simple and reflect real-life situations. As part of my research, I talked to mothers and grandparents who I met in playgrounds. My first game was “Don’t pick your nose” (Nešt’ourej se v nose), which was aimed at 3-7 year olds. We held a press conference where the game “ambassador” and etiquette expert Ladislav Špaček took part. It was great fun, and almost all the journalists we invited turned up. The first game was sold on a commission basis, with 500 being produced. We sold out after one month. Since then I’ve produced other games, including Watch Out! (safety for kids) or Diversity (respect and tolerance). Children matter so much and I really love this project. It makes so much sense to me. I recently launched Watch Out on Android market, so it is available as well in English and Czech for all the Android users all around the world. And I am certainly not done. This is a project for a lifetime.”