- Kathy Chen/Twitter
Twitter executive Kathy Chen, brought in to run the company’s operations in Greater China just over eight months ago, has quit.
It’s the latest in a string of top executive departures for the struggling social network.
A Twitter representative declined to comment.
Twitter has been blocked in China since 2009, though it is still used through virtual private networks. Domestically, the Sina Weibo microblogging platform and Tencent’s WeChat messaging app are more widely used. But Chinese organizations – including the state news agency Xinhua – do use Twitter to reach audiences abroad.
Chen, who had worked with Microsoft and Cisco, was brought in to lure more Chinese advertisers to the platform. At the time, the company was criticized for her hiring by democracy activists because of her links to China’s army and the security services, The Guardian reported.
“Now that the Twitter APAC team is working directly with Chinese advertisers, this is the right time for me to leave the company,” she wrote in a tweet announcing her departure.
7/12 Now that the Twitter APAC team is working directly with Chinese advertisers, this is the right time for me to leave the company.
— Kathy Chen (@kathychen2016) December 31, 2016
Twitter grew its Greater China advertiser base by nearly 400% over the past two years, she wrote, making it one of the company’s fastest-growing revenue markets in Asia Pacific. Its Chinese advertisers have included the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, the online shopping giant Alibaba Group, the white goods producer Qingdao Haier, and Air China.
“We remain committed to this market,” Chen said, adding that the company’s Hong Kong office would remain open.
Twitter has been undergoing a significant shake-up, and not only in Asia, announcing in October that it would cut more than 9% of its global workforce to keep costs down. Parminder Singh, the managing director for India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, left the company in early November.
Just before Christmas, the news broke that the social network’s chief technology officer, Adam Messinger, and its vice president of product, Josh McFarland, were leaving the company. They’re the latest in an exodus of top executives: Adam Bain, Twitter’s chief operating officer, stepped down in November. And Richard Alfonsi, the company’s vice president of ad sales, jumped ship at the start of December for Stripe.
In the past year, Twitter has struggled to grow, is losing money, has been criticized for harassment and abuse on its platform, has been through rounds of layoffs, and has seen its stock price move far below its heights of more than $70 (£57) from early 2014.
The company explored a possible sale earlier in 2016, but it fell through – with potential buyers Salesforce and Disney reportedly put off in part because of Twitter’s harassment problem.