Twitter's China boss Kathy Chen quits after eight months

Tue Jan 3, 2017 11:47am EST
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NEW YORK/BEIJING (Reuters) - Twitter Inc (TWTR.N: Quote) executive Kathy Chen, brought in to run Greater China just over eight months ago, has quit, according to a tweet sent by her over the weekend.

Twitter has been blocked in China since 2009 but is still used through virtual private networks (VPN).

Domestically, the Sina Weibo microblogging platform and Tencent's (0700.HK: Quote) WeChat messaging app are more widely used. But Chinese entities, including the state news agency Xinhua, use Twitter to reach audiences abroad.

Chen, who previously worked at Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote) and Cisco (CSCO.O: Quote), was brought in to lure more Chinese advertisers to Twitter. At the time, social media criticism focused on her early work with Chinese state-affiliated enterprises.

"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.

Twitter grew its Greater China advertiser base nearly 400 percent over the past two years, she wrote, making it one of the firm's fastest growing revenue markets in Asia Pacific (APAC).

Twitter's top Chinese advertisers have included Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, online shopping giant Alibaba Group (BABA.N: Quote), white goods producer Qingdao Haier (600690.SS: Quote) and flag carrier Air China (601111.SS: Quote).

"We remain committed to this market," Chen said, adding the company's Hong Kong office would remain open.

Twitter confirmed it would retain the Hong Kong office to serve Hong Kong-based clients, but declined to provide further details on Chen's departure.   Continued...

Kathy Chen speaks at a forum in Shanghai, October 18, 2016.  REUTERS/Stringer