Sophia Liao, president of Condé Nast China, could not be reached for comment regarding the succession plan, or the cause of the sudden resignation. Zeng declined to comment.
GQ China has been under scrutiny over the past year. Last week, its deputy editor Tao He, who was in charge of reporting, was charged by his team members Min Liu, Lukai Kang, Meng Yu, Weiling Hong, Chengwu Hao and Yindi Li of professional misconduct, including fabricating facts, plagiarism and sexual harassment of female team members.
Tao immediately resigned, but hit back with a letter from his lawyer denying the sexual harassment allegation and demanding an apology.
Last September, Paco Tang, the company’s group publisher, was the subject of an anonymous e-mail sent to Condé Nast China staff, and the Chinese heads of luxury brands, alleging kickbacks and embezzlement.
The anonymous e-mail sender claimed to be an employee of the company and alleged that Tang handed contracts for events organized by GQ China and Vogue China to Tang’s own agency, set up with his partner, Li Fan. The e-mail alleged a conflict of interest and violation of Chinese law.
The sender also accused Tang of embezzling 7 million to 10 million renminbi, or $983,000 to $1.4 million at current exchange, from the company, and threatened to send the documentation to Condé Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse and chief executive officer Roger Lynch, and publish them on Chinese social media platforms, should Tang refuse to resign.
GQ China is one of the most profitable publications for Condé Nast worldwide, thanks to its hugely successful digital strategy. Its WeChat account, GQ Lab, alone brought in more than 200 million renminbi in 2018, or $28.6 million at current exchange.