Briefing: Chinese housing startup Danke hires ex-Baidu executive

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China’s housing unicorn Danke appoints ex-Baidu executive as new COO – TechCrunch

What happened: Danke Gongyou, a Chinese housing startup valued at $2 billion, has hired Gu Guodong as its chief operating officer. TechCrunch reports that he will roll out targeted marketing and real estate acquisitions, and oversee more rigorous operational procedures. Gu was one of five top-level Baidu executives following Baidu’s disappointing quarterly earnings report. He oversaw marketing staff for search, Baidu’s highest-grossing division, helping earn annual sales of around $14.4 billion.

Why it’s important: Founded in 2015 and backed by Tiger Global and Ant Financial, Danke rents shared houses targeting young professionals. It now manages nearly 500,000 housing units in 10 major Chinese cities including Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou.The industry of housing startups is increasingly competitive, with tech giants like JD.com claiming a piece, but it has had a tumultuous year. One of the largest Chinese online rental platforms, Ziroom, has hit with a series of scandals over data theft, hidden cameras, and elevated levels of formaldehyde in apartments. Danke’s aims for Gu are to leverage his extensive operational experience to help the startup set stricter operational standards and shore up long-term growth prospects.