Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer Nathan Blecharczyk has been named chairman of Airbnb China. Hong Ge, the former head of the company’s China business has left four months after taking the job there. Asia Pacific head Kum Hong Siew will act as interim China chief until a replacement is found, according to a report on FT.com.
In his new additional role, Blecharczyk will travel to China on a monthly basis and work with Airbnb China staff of over 100 team members based in Beijing and Shanghai to offer support and leadership. Airbnb expects to more than double the number of team members it has in China within the next year.
Blecharczyk noted that what works elsewhere in the world just doesn’t work in China, referencing other tech giants such as Google, Amazon, and Uber, which have struggled to establish themselves in the country. He also said Airbnb learned that firsthand when “our site just didn’t work frankly” when the company first began doing business in China about three or four years ago. Now that Airbnb has established Airbnb China and put local staff on the ground, however, he noted “There’s a lot of upside to localizing in China.”
And while Airbnb initially focused on outbound Chinese travelers, Blecharczyk noted that he’s seen rapid growth in Airbnb’s domestic Chinese business which now comprises more than 120,000 properties, what he said comprises “a huge percentage of our business.”
A release announcing Blecharczyk’s appointment noted that in one 12-month period, Airbnb China has seen more than 2.25 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings in China, a 287 percent year-over-year increase.
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