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The Drum

Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk to lead China operation after China VP's shock departure

Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk has become chairman of Airbnb China

Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk will assume control of Airbnb’s China operations following the departure of China vice president Hong Ge.

Ge, an engineer who previously worked for Airbnb, Facebook and Google, was appointed China VP in June and tasked with accelerating growth.

Ge was responsible for all China initiatives and reported directly to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.

His departure was announced by Chesky who said Ge was,“stepping down to pursue opportunities outside of Airbnb”, according to a report by Bloomberg.

A statement from Airbnb said Blecharczyk will become chairman of Airbnb China, responsible for “enhancing all aspects of Airbnb’s services in order to build on our momentum in China.

“China is Airbnb’s fastest growing domestic market ever as well as our second fastest growing outbound travel market ever.”

Blecharczyk will travel to China on a monthly basis to ensure the teams in Beijing and Shanghai are supported by the company’s global teams.

It comes as Airbnb looks to strengthen and scale its operations in China, where the company has secured 120,000 active listings and has seen more than 2.25 million guest arrivals in China listings.

However, the company faces steep competition from local rivals including market leader Tujia, which is backed by China’s largest online travel company C-Trip. Tujia claims to have more than 400,000 properties

Earlier this year, Airbnb launched its Chinese name, Aibiying 爱彼迎, which translates as ‘welcome each other with love’. The name was met with criticism by Chinese netizens.

The company also unveiled ambitious plans to doubles its investment in the China market and triple the size of its local team.

Airbnb is in vesting heavily in the market and is working closely with Chinese regional governments including Chengdu, Chongqing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou to promote awareness of its brand and services. The company has also launched the Airbnb Guilin Rural Community Tourism program aimed at promoting rural tourism in Guilin and generating economic opportunities for locals through home sharing.