Airbnb’s Former China Head Appears To Have Violated Company Code

Patrick James Rose October 27, 2017
Airbnb’s Former China Head Appears To Have Violated Company Code

Hong Ge, the head of Airbnb's business in China, has announced to staff that he's leaving the company, making the situation of the company precarious.

Now, the precarious situation in China became more complicated last week after the company discovered allegations of a romantic relationship between Ge and an underling.

The ethical dilemma contributed to growing rift and a power struggle with executives in San Francisco that led to the China chief’s exit after just four months.

Violated Company Code

The home-rental company determined Hong Ge, the former China head, violated its code of conduct by dating a female employee, said two people with knowledge of the matter. The relationship was whispered about in the Beijing office and created a distraction, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel matters.

Ge, a former software engineer at Facebook and Google, told colleagues that he was leaving the company for another opportunity.

Nick Papas, a spokesman for Airbnb, confirmed Ge’s departure but declined to comment further.

Even before the misconduct allegation, Ge’s ties to executives in San Francisco had been unraveling since he took over the China business in June. Ge was dissatisfied about a lack of autonomy and business challenges that headquarters weren’t prepared to solve, people familiar with the matter said.

“It’s a very tough decision for me to leave behind all of what we have built together. But hey, it’s a small world. I will still be in the internet industry,” Ge wrote to staff. “I’m sure our paths will cross again in the future.”

Airbnb had searched unsuccessfully since 2015 to recruit a business chief for China. The company faces increasing competition in a country it has long regarded as vital to creating a global travel business and justifying a $31 billion private valuation. This summer Airbnb said it was ramping up investment in China and would quadruple the engineering team to more than 100 in Beijing over the coming year.


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Patrick James Rose

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