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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

California cities lead the U.S. in inflation. Housing costs are a big reason why

June 13, 2019 |

Nationally, consumer prices are barely moving, with inflation clocking in at just 1.8% for May. But if you live in a major urban area of California, you’ve noticed a much bigger hit.

Among the chief culprits? Housing costs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday that a handful of…


L.A. Times – Business

A $1,800 apartment became a $3,300 corporate rental. Is that bad for housing?

June 10, 2019 |

Last week, an upstart company started providing furnished apartments for business travelers on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. Its website describes a “tastefully renovated” apartment complex with “laid back West Coast DNA” and a feeling of “whimsical Italian modern maximalism.”

Tony Diamond, the…


L.A. Times – Business

Amid housing slowdown, Southern California prices rise slightly in April

May 29, 2019 |

The sluggish Southern California housing market showed some signs of perking up in April, as prices ticked up one month after they fell for the first time since 2012.

In a report released Wednesday, real estate firm CoreLogic said the six-county median sales price climbed 1.4% from a year earlier…


L.A. Times – Business

Carson Thought Housing Term Was Cookie Name

May 22, 2019 |

Acronyms relating to his job apparently aren’t Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s strong suit. When asked about the common term REO during a testy House Financial Services Committee hearing Tuesday, a confused Carson thought Democratic Rep. Katie Porter was talking about Oreo cookies, the Washington Post reports. “An…
Newser

U.S. housing starts drop to lowest level in two years amid affordability concerns

April 20, 2019 |

U.S. new-home construction unexpectedly fell in March, decelerating to the slowest pace since May 2017 and suggesting builders remain wary even as lower mortgage rates and steady wage gains offer support to consumers.

Residential starts fell 0.3% to a 1.139-million annualized rate after a downwardly…


L.A. Times – Business

Housing vouchers can save people from homelessness. But landlords may not accept them

March 29, 2019 |

When Kimberly Dominique received her Section 8 voucher in September, she thought it was the ticket to move out of the Ford Focus she and her 29-year-old son called home.

But Dominique, a 66-year-old stroke survivor, spent months contacting one apartment complex after another in Oceanside, only…


L.A. Times – Business

Facebook agrees to dismantle targeted system for job and housing ads after discrimination complaints

March 19, 2019 |

Facebook on Tuesday agreed to overhaul its lucrative targeted advertising system to settle accusations that landlords, lenders and employers use the platform to discriminate against African Americans, women, seniors, people with disabilities and others.

The far-reaching settlement compels Facebook…


L.A. Times – Business

Military families warn of unsafe housing: rats, toxic mold and more

February 14, 2019 |

Military families testified Wednesday about ‘slum-like’ conditions in some privatized base housing that they allege contributes to disease and birth defects.
FOX News

Microsoft pledges $500 million to tackle Seattle housing crisis

January 17, 2019 |

Microsoft has pledged $ 500 million to address homelessness and develop affordable housing in response to the Seattle region’s widening affordability gap.

Most of the money will be aimed at increasing housing options in the Puget Sound region for low- and middle-income workers at a time when they’re…


L.A. Times – Business