Zhao Ming packs his bags at Fang Holdings

09 Aug 2017

The bad news keeps on coming for Fang Holdings (房天下, NYSE: SFUN), otherwise known as Soufang, or Soufun. Now, the company’s chief technical officer Zhao Ming 赵明 announced his resignation from the Beijing-based property listing site. 

As CTO, Zhao handled the technical challenges thrown up by the company’s transition from a “traditional internet model” to a transaction-based model. That transition has been officially and publicly abandoned by Fang, and the platform essentially pressed the reset button on the work of the past two years. 

Zhao will join Beijing-based Tianjia xinxi jishu (铁甲信息技术有限公司) as its CTO. 

Chief technical officer Zhao Ming, who’ll leave Fang Holdings and join Tianjia xinxi jishu

In FY2016, Fang posted a net loss of $170 million U.S., up from a loss of just $15 million U.S in FY2015, despite a rise in revenue. In Q1 2017 this trend continued, with the company announcing total revenues of $109.8 million U.S., a decrease of 46.3 percent from the corresponding period in 2016.

In Q1 of FY2017, this trend continued with the company reporting total revenue of $110 million U.S., a decrease of 46.3 percent from the corresponding period in FY2016.

Tianjia xinxi jishu owns Tiebaobei.com (铁甲二手机), which operates on much the same basis as online-to-offline used-auto sites, but for heavy equipment. The platform is available on desktop and mobile and covers 30 provinces and more than 400 cities. 

Although hardly a household name, Tiebaobei is the market leader in secondhand construction equipment in China, equivalent to Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers in the U.S. (which also has a China operation).

In 2015, Tiebaobei raised 100 million RMB in a series B financing round that was led by respected venture capital firm DCM Ventures (DCM领投), also backer of classified giants 58.com (NYSE: WUBA) and 51job (前程无忧), and joined by Qiming Venture Partners (启明创投). 

The addition of Zhao is nonetheless a boon for a company which few outside the construction sector are familiar with.

Zhao is a highly respected and experienced figure in the Chinese internet sector. He joined the leading website and information company Sina (新浪网) in 1998, rising to director of technology. He was instrumental in the development of Sina’s in-house content management framework.

Zhao joined Fang in 2007, prior to its listing on the NYSE in 2009. The listings site saw its stock price briefly reach stratospheric levels in 2014, when the company’s market cap reached an incredible $8 billion U.S.. Since then, Fang’s share price has been in freefall. The market cap is now closer to $1.4 billion U.S. and falling.

Commenting on the move, Zhao said he saw great potential in Tianjia xinxi jishu, and in the used-equipment market, which he stated was worth “hundreds of billions of RMB” annually.

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Tom Marling

Tom is a PhD candidate in Chinese History at Hong Kong Baptist University, and former PR consultant in Mainland China. He joined the AIM Group in 2016 as a writer/analyst.