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Airbnb names China chief to tackle local rival

After a long search for an executive to run operations in China, airbnb has named an existing executive, Hong Ge (葛宏), as vice president in charge of its business in the world’s second-largest economy.

Ge will report to airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, “Hong has unparalleled knowledge of our product and what it needs to be in China, combining a deep technical expertise with an understanding of the local market,” Bloomberg reports.

A graduate of Yale University with a masters degree in computer science, Ge joined airbnb China last year as head of product and engineering and is now the highest-ranking executive at the company.

Ge has previously worked in software engineering roles at Facebook and Google. His LinkedIn profile lists Beijing as his current location.

The new leader is tasked with helping airbnb crack what could be its toughest market to date. The company has spent years raising money and preparing the groundwork for expansion into China.

Finding a chief executive at airbnb China was seen as “the top priority” by the company, as the role was previously held by its chief financial officer Laurence Tosi.

Airbnb’s biggest challenge will be home-grown rental platform Tujia, which is backed by Ctrip.com – China’s largest online travel agent.

Tujia boasts 400,000 properties while airbnb has 80,000 listings in China, according to data from CNN.

Airbnb has been making efforts to expand in China; in March, it announced a localised Chinese name ‘Aibiying‘ (愛彼迎) but was mocked for the awkward translation.

Last month, the home-sharing company rolled out its first marketing campaign in China.

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