After few months of nabbing a handsome $500 million funding round, China’s shared housing startup Danke Apartment get a talent boost.
On Monday, Danke announced Gu Guodong as its new chief operating officer to elevate the company’s offline operational crew. Gu, whose nickname is Michael, stepped down from Baidu after spending five years as one of the key figures in search. He was historically the company’s biggest revenue-generating division. He is known for managing several tens of thousands of marketing staff and helps them generate sales of close to 100 billion yuan ($14.44 billion) for Baidu on an annual basis.
Gu’s arrival will ensure a good expansion at Danke. Currently, the company is managing almost 500,000 units of rooms in ten different Chinese cities within a time of four years. The startup takes the co-living approach akin to that of We Work’s We to live and rents out the fully furnished apartments targeted at young professionals who are not able to afford a full suite. With support by Tiger Global and Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial, Danke’s valuation has crossed $2 billion in its funding round in February.
Gu is the former Baidu executives who resigned during a recent top-level exodus that involved at least five leaders, including the search division boss Xiang Hailong, to whom Gu was reporting in the company. It is speculated that Xiang’s exit might trigger his lieutenants to leave. According to a statement given by a person close to Gu left the company one to two weeks prior to Xiang’s departure.
For Gu, joining Danke is like returning home. According to Danke chief executive Gao Jing “We welcome our comrade and good friend Michael,” who previously worked alongside Gu at Nuomi, the local services startup that was sold to Baidu for $3.2 billion and it became significant 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 a period of 2014 and 2017. The several other core members of Danke have hailed from Nuomi.
Danke is confident that the Gu’s addition will be a boon to its operational capacity. Gao gave a statement that “Gu is having good amount of experience in operational management, sharp business insights, outstanding leadership, and a better understanding of the internet sector and user needs,” He further added that “Under the supervision of Gu’s, Danke will enter into a new dimension of refined operation.”
With this statement, Gao means Gu will be tasked for more targeted marketing, efficient housing renovation, more precise acquisition of apartment space, along with other quality-control measures to drive sustainable growth at the company.
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