Xiao Houjun, editor-in-chief of China’s second-largest news aggregator platform, Qutoutiao, left the company last week, competitor Jinri Toutiao reports.
His departure comes two weeks after Qutoutiao’s co-founder Lei Li resigned as CEO, with vice-chairman and fellow co-founder Tan Siliang taking the helm instead.
The executive turnover follows a difficult first quarter for the company, marked by widening losses. It recorded a net loss of RMB 688.2 million (USD 102.5 million), a 127% increase from Q1 2018, and 72.86% from Q4 2018. It also booked RMB 1.1 billion in revenue, up 373.3% year-on-year but down 15.79% quarter-on-quarter.
Qutoutiao claimed 111.4 million monthly users, a 297.4% year-on-year increase, and a 18.7% quarter-on-quarter increase.
The company also initiated a share repurchase program last week, which could see it buy back as much as USD 50 million in shares over the next year. Its share price had dropped more than 60% in the previous three months at the time this decision was announced.
Nevertheless, Qutoutiao has powerful allies, counting both Tencent and Alibaba as backers. The two internet giants share a mutual interest in supporting Qutoutiao against Jinri Toutiao, which is owned by Bytedance, the world’s most valuable startup and a looming threat to Tencent’s and Alibaba’s dominance.