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HTC executive exodus now includes Asia CEO

Top executives are leaving the mobile phone maker amidst falling revenue, weak demand for the HTC First, and other woes. The latest: HTC Asia CEO Lennard Hoornik.

A former HTC exec advises his friends to leave the company.
A former HTC exec advises his friends to leave the company.
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

HTC executives are departing a company that's facing strong challenges in the mobile market.

Our colleagues at CNET Asia this morning reported that HTC Asia CEO Lennard Hoornik has left the handset maker after an absence of two months during which he was "on leave," and there's no word on where he is headed.

That departure continues an unsettling trend for HTC. Chief product officer Kouji Kodera, who led HTC's general product strategy, left last week, according to The Verge. Vice president of global communications Jason Gordon recently exited the company after a seven-year stint. Other outgoing executives include global retail marketing manager Rebecca Rowland, digital marketing director John Starkweather, and product strategy manager Eric Lin.

In a tweet announcing his departure, Lin even urged fellow HTC employees to follow his example, telling them to "just quit. leave now. it's tough to do, but you'll be so much happier, I swear." In a follow-up tweet, Lin added that "I didn't leave for a competitor or a carrier or something. just i don't miss the place, only the people."

"Anyone who's heard of them in Seattle doesn't want to go work for them right now. They're like T-Mobile two years ago," one source told The Verge, referring to a T-Mobile that was losing many of its subscribers prior to AT&T's attempted takeover. "They're in utter freefall."

So, just what is driving these executives to flee HTC? A few reasons seem to have popped up.

The so-called Facebook phone, aka the HTC First, has failed to find much of an audience. Facing lackluster sales, HTC even recently chopped the price of the phone from $99 to 99 cents.

Part of the blame may be placed at the feet of Facebook. The social network reportedly promised to provide its Facebook Home app exclusively to HTC for the First phone before offering it to the general public, sources told The Verge. But Facebook changed its mind and launched the app the same week the First debuted.

Another challenge faced by HTC rests with its new flagship One phone. Though the HTC One has garnered a slew of positive reviews, the phone still has to compete in a market dominated by Apple and Samsung. HTC chairman Peter Chou reportedly promised to resign if the One doesn't score with consumers, the Wall Street said in March.

And that leads to yet another problem at HTC. Sources told The Verge that Chou has been making "snap decisions" rather than devising a long-term strategy. HTC staffers reportedly told Chou that the One was facing delays in production, but he told them to forge ahead anyway. After it was announced earlier this year, the One did hit delays, taking a bite out of the company's first-quarter earnings.

Update 7:12 a.m. PT: Added information about the departure of HTC Asia CEO Lennard Hoornik.