Airbnb Welcomes Chairman to China Inn
Homestay specialist Airbnb named one of its co-founders to the new position of China chairman, in a nod to the market’s big potential, as it separately said its country head left the company less than five months after joining.
Airbnb said that co-founder and chief strategy officer Nathan Blecharczyk’s appointment as China chairman comes as it scales up operations in “one of the largest markets in the world,” and that Blecharczyk would travel to China at least once every month.
“As chairman, Nathan will be responsible for enhancing all aspects of Airbnb’s services in order to build on our momentum in China,” Airbnb said in a statement. “He’ll also ensure that our strong team on the ground in Beijing and Shanghai will have a direct line to leaders in our San Francisco office who can give the China team all the support they need from our global team.”
Separately, an Airbnb spokeswoman said Ge Hong, a Silicon Valley veteran with past experience at Facebook and Google, has left the company “to pursue other opportunities.” Ge joined as head of the company’s China operation in June, a half year after Airbnb launched its popular shared-economy service in the fast-growing market.
Airbnb said Kum Hong Siew, its regional director for Asia, would act in Ge’s position until a new person was found.
Airbnb formally entered China in December, and now competes with a group of homegrown rivals like Tujia and Xiaozhu. Like other hotel operators, it is required to share information on both its hosts and the travelers who use its system to local police.
In announcing Blecharczyk’s new appointment, Airbnb said it now has 120,000 active listings in China, making it the world’s largest homestay specialist. It added that its China service hosted 2.25 million guest visits in an unspecified recent 12 month period, nearly quadruple the figure from the previous 12 months.
“All told, China is Airbnb’s fastest growing domestic market ever as well as our second fastest growing outbound travel market ever,” the company said, adding that it would rapidly expand its own operations in the country. That includes a doubling of its headcount for staff who serve hosts. It said it would also roll out new functions to maintain its quality standards, following its recent removal of thousands of listings that didn’t meet its standards.
Contact reporter Yang Ge (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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