Twitter’s China director Kathy Chen departs after 8 months

Twitter's logo featured in the lobby of its San Francisco headquarters.

Twitter’s seemingly endless line of executives parting ways with the company continues as its China managing director Kathy Chen announced her departure. She termed her separation as being the “right time”, but came abruptly as she only joined Twitter in April. Chen did not disclose her future plans, only to say in a tweet that she will “take some time off to recharge, study about different cultures and then pursue more international business opportunities.”

Although she received the title of managing director for Greater China, Twitter wasn’t able to legally operate in the country because of a ban imposed by the government — although some have found workarounds to use it regardless. Amid this giant hurdle, the company opened up a Hong Kong office in 2015 to pursue Chinese advertisers because while the country’s citizens can’t use the service internally, it shouldn’t stop businesses from advertising beyond its borders, right?

Chen was brought on board in April to oversee this effort and also to find ways for the platform to be used by developers and other businesses not only in China, but Hong Kong and Taiwan. Twitter faced criticism over her hiring from activists who argued that Chen’s background working with the People’s Liberation Army as an engineer and also Computer Associates, which once had China’s government as a minority owner, would be a hinderance to free speech.

In a 12-part series of tweets yesterday, Chen said that she felt that since there was an established relationship with Chinese advertisers, her job was done. “Great China is one of our fastest growing revenue markets in Asia Pacific for Twitter today…” she remarked, saying that the advertiser base has grown “nearly 400 percent over the past 2 years.”

The Hong Kong office will remain open “at this time”. Twitter also has an office in Singapore which houses its Asia Pacific headquarters.

Eight months is all it took for Chen to join a growing cadre of executives who have left the company. She joins chief technology officer Adam Messinger, Josh McFarland who is now a venture capitalist with Greylock, Kevin Weil who joined Instagram, chief operating officer Adam Bain, engineering executive Alex Roetter, global media head Katie Stanton, and human resources chief Brian “Skip” Schipper, as having moved past Twitter.

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