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| June 18, 2019

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China’s housing unicorn Danke appoints ex-Baidu exec as new COO

June 17, 2019 |

A few months after nabbing a handsome $ 500 million funding round, China’s shared housing startup Danke Apartment got a talent boost.

On Monday, Danke announced the appointment of Gu Guodong as its new chief operating officer to ramp up the company’s offline operational crew. Gu, whose nickname is Michael, stepped down from Baidu after five years as one of the key figures in search, historically the company’s biggest revenue-generating division. He’s known to have managed several tens of thousands of marketing staff and helped generate sales of close to 100 billion yuan ($ 14.44 billion) for Baidu annually.

Gu’s arrival followed a period of explosive expansion at Danke, which is now managing almost 500,000 units of rooms across 10 Chinese cities after founding four years ago. The startup takes the co-living approach akin to that of WeWork’s Welive and rents out fully furnished apartments targeted at young professionals who can’t afford a full suite. Backed by Tiger Global and Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial, Danke’s valuation crossed $ 2 billion in its funding round in February.

Gu is one of the former Baidu executives who resigned during a recent top-level exodus (report in Chinese) that involved at least five leaders, including the search division boss Xiang Hailong, to whom Gu reported. There were speculations that Xiang’s exit might have triggered his lieutenants to leave, though TechCrunch has learned from a person close to Gu that he had left “one to two weeks” prior to Xiang’s departure.

For Gu, joining Danke would almost feel like returning home. “We welcome our comrade and good friend Michael,” said Danke chief executive Gao Jing, who previously worked alongside Gu at Nuomi, the local services startup that was sold to Baidu for $ 3.2 billion and became integral to the internet giant’s online-to-offline business. Derek Shen, an investor and current chairman of Danke, co-founded Nuomi in 2010 before heading up LinkedIn China between 2014 and 2017. Several other core members of Danke have also hailed from Nuomi.

Danke is confident that Gu’s addition will be a boon to its operational capacity. “Gu has abundant experience in operational management, sharp business insights, outstanding leadership, and a deep understanding of the internet sector and user needs,” said Gao. “Under his direction, Danke will enter a new phase of refined operation.”

By that, Gao means Gu will be tasked with rolling out more targeted marketing, more efficient housing renovation, more precise acquisition of apartment space, among other quality-control measures to drive sustainable growth at the company.

Update: Spelling of Gu’s name was corrected.

TechCrunch

China’s state planner suggests using rare earths as leverage in U.S. trade war

May 29, 2019 |

China’s powerful planning body has threatened to use rare-earth element exports as leverage in the trade war with the U.S., in a sign of increasing tensions between the two powers.

Rare earths, a group of 17 metals with a variety of high-tech applications, are used in magnets, instrument displays…


L.A. Times – Business

Baidu, China’s answer to Google, reports first quarterly loss since 2005

May 17, 2019 |

Baidu, widely seen as the Google of China, felt the heat from its spending on artificial intelligence and other next-gen technologies that have yet to reach the mass market as it unveiled troubled first-quarter financials on Thursday.

The company logged a net loss attributable to shareholders of $ 49 million in the quarter ended March 31, marking the first quarterly loss since it went public in 2005. That compares to net income of 6.69 billion yuan a year before.

Baidu is the biggest search service in China and has reaped huge rewards from search ads in the PC era. But as consumers allocate their attention to new forms of mobile services — notably recommendation-based apps to discover content — Baidu is losing its appeal.

Xiang Hailong, senior vice president of Baidu’s search business, resigned after serving the company since 2005, announced the earnings report. The search giant has renamed its search business to a new ‘mobile business’.

Baidu’s revenue for the quarter rose slightly to 24.1 billion yuan ($ 3.5 billion), up 15 percent year-over-year.

This is a developing story. Check back for analysis.

TechCrunch

CNN

China’s persecuted Uyghurs find acceptance in Turkey

May 12, 2019 |

The call to prayer at Emine Inanc mosque brings together immigrants who have found sanctuary in Istanbul’s working-class Zeytinburnu neighborhood.
CNN.com – RSS Channel – World

CNN

Life inside China’s police state

May 9, 2019 |

The small bedroom is frozen in time. The two little girls who used to sleep here left two years ago with their mother and now can’t come home.
CNN.com – RSS Channel – World

China’s April exports fall amid US tariff war; imports rise

May 8, 2019 |

China’s April exports fell 2.7% from a year ago amid the country’s tariff war with Washington, while imports rebounded to 4% growth.
FOX News

China’s economy growth beat expectations in the first quarter

April 17, 2019 |

China’s economic performance unexpectedly held steady in the first three months of the year despite a tariff war with the U.S., as stimulus measures helped arrest a slowdown that’s rattled investors and cast doubt over global expansion.

Gross domestic product rose 6.4% in the first quarter from…


L.A. Times – Business