April 24, 2014

Why I left China

At the end of 2009, I left China in something of a hurry. Let me outline why.

One of the companies I’d founded – a chain of language schools, called Kai En – was going bankrupt. The problem came about after the US economy went south and the language school’s client-base dried up. There were big changes in the market.

I hadn’t actually worked at the language schools since 2005 but I still had shares in them. (I worked at ChinesePod between 2005-9.)

But three years of heavy losses drained myself and the other shareholders financially. From 2007 – 2009 our efforts to keep it alive cost us pretty much everything we had. By the end of 2009, we had run out of resources and out of options.

When I spoke to a Chinese bankruptcy lawyer in Oct 2009 he told me that Chinese law would not protect us. He described scenarios where anything could happen. The realities of the law there became horrifyingly clear to us.

Yet I was still surprised when he advised us to leave and solve the problem from offshore. We simply could not expect the legal protection otherwise.

It’s hard to explain the vulnerability you feel in China with a family in tow, some powerful people lining up against you, and a lawyer who tells you to solve it from offshore. So, we left.

Since then I’ve worked with the parties concerned in China from a base in Taiwan. Most of the mess has been cleaned up and I believe most of the people who suffered from the bankruptcy have been compensated. I hope to return to China in the new year.

In the meantime I plan to move on and try to re-build.

Ken Carroll

    If you liked this post...
    sign up here for free email updates and special offers


    1. Ken Carroll says:

      If there are outstanding issues please send me a working contact email. I can’t address anonymous comments or commentors without a contact address.



    2. ik says:

      All the best for the move back Ken.
      I wonder what your opinion on this article by a Brit who lived in China for many years, then decided to pack up and leave is.



    3. bababardwan says:

      Wow Ken. I’m impressed. I’m under the impression that most folk who go bankrupt just file for bankruptcy and then move on, wiping their hands of it….never to go back and try and compensate those affected. Respect. I’m glad you all came out of it unscathed and that the dark days are behind you. I wish you and your family all the best in your move back to China. 加油 ! 万岁


      • Ken Carroll says:

        Hey Baba,

        Thanks for this. I’m not certain that everyone has been compensated but I’ve tried. A couple of people left messages here saying they had lost out but they were anonymous of left no contact details. I will follow up on all genuine messages with contact details.

        So, I wouldnlt quite say I, or anyone else, came through unscathed. Bankruptcies are harsh. But it’s time to move on and do new things.

        I’ll let you know as they progress.



    4. Matthew Rudy says:

      Great to hear you’re heading back to China.

      I started learning Chinese listening to Jenny and yourself.
      It was a shame you had to leave Chinesepod.

      Good luck in the new year.

    5. a-fan-from-2006 says:

      Good luck Ken. You did some good work at ChinesePod. It made a big difference for me, and it was really something special, particularly in the first three years. I’ve done three start-ups, and C-pod certainly had all the same traits. glad that one worked out, and hope you share in some of that.

      I signed up for you feed — keep us all posted on what you do next.



      • Ken Carroll says:

        Thanks so much for this. The last couple of years have not been the most pleasant so it’s nice to hear this kind of support. As it happens I’m just about to launch something new. Please feel free to offer any feedback.


    6. Mohamed Moshaya says:

      Hi Ken,

      Best of luck… We certainly miss listening to you at ChinesePod. I have been a listener since almost the beginning, and you have inspired me to start ArabicPod.net.

      All the best

    Speak Your Mind