Four days ago, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky let employees know that Hong Ge, the company’s VP of China, who’d taken on the role just four months ago, is leaving the company to pursue opportunities outside of Airbnb.
We reached out to Ge last night for more information and have yet to hear back. In the meantime, we’ve learned the Ronnie Gurion — whose LinkedIn profile states that he has been leading Airbnb’s international business development efforts since April of last year — quietly stepped down in July to accept the role of chief strategy officer at the competing vacation rental platform HomeAway.
Asked about the move, Gurion declined to comment. Asked for more information, an Airbnb spokesperson also declined to comment for this story but, at our request, sent us some of the company’s most recent metrics regarding its international reach.
The data reports that Airbnb currently offers four million listings across more than 191 countries, with the most listings in the U.S., followed France, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.
A source at Airbnb tells us that that employees often use whatever title they like on LinkedIn, suggesting that Gurion was far from key to the organization. Given Gurion’s new C-level job, however, it seems unlikely that he dramatically exaggerated his position with Airbnb. His role was “managing director,” a title that just four other people use to describe their roles at Airbnb, at least on LinkedIn.
One of them is Olivier Grémillon, who lists himself as the managing director of Europe, Middle East and Africa. Grémillon has been described by the Guardian as “Airbnb’s European chief.”
Before joining Airbnb, Gurion spent six years with Orbitz, including as president of its “partner network and media solutions.” Earlier in his career, he also spent three years in a director-level role with the travel giant Expedia (which acquired HomeAway in 2015 for $3.9 billion).
Airbnb, which employed 3,100 employees altogether as of May, was reportedly valued at $31 billion as of March of this year, when it closed on $1 billion to expand geographically, as well as enter into the business of travel tours and luxury rentals. At the time, a source told the FT that Airbnb turned profitable before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization last year, and that Airbnb expects to be profitable again for the full year this year.
Of course, like any “unicorn” company, Airbnb needs to maintain its growth in order to win over public market investors, who are turning bearish fast on tech companies that disappoint.
Snap Inc. has learned that lesson the hard way this year. No doubt it’s a misstep that Airbnb aims to avoid, even if with a changing cast of employees.