What's a more dangerous profession, heading up an American company's presence in China or drumming for Spinal Tap? The answer isn't very clear. A story out of Reuters this morning has confirmed that the president of Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) China has stepped down "for personal reasons," even though he had assumed the position just last month.

The move follows a high-ranking defection two months ago over at eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), when the head of the company's Chinese auction site also stepped down. The move had Chinese journalists speculating that eBay was gearing up to leave the country and hand the keys to TOM Online (NASDAQ:TOMO).

What's going on? It seemed as if eBay and Yahoo! were doing it right. They each teamed up with established local sites instead of trying to ram their own models into the world's largest nation. That appears to be the best approach, especially after watching Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) lose search engine market share to Baidu.com (NASDAQ:BIDU) over the past year.

However, toiling away in a booming market is never as easy as it sounds. Expectations loom large, especially as stateside growth for eBay and Yahoo! has been slowing in recent years. China is seen as a catalyst for accelerated growth -- and rightfully so -- but a market so early in its infancy will never achieve a consensus in terms of the best strategy to harness that potential. I expect executives to continue to bump heads with their peers, because this isn't as easy as just going back a few years domestically and following the same road map to success.

The rules are different. The playing field is foreign. And the ultimate payoff in a country 1.3 billion strong is eventually going to be greater. So keep drumming, folks. Keep drumming.

Baidu is a recent recommendation in theRule Breakersgrowth stock newsletter service. Yahoo!, TOM Online, and eBay have been singled out toStock Advisorreaders.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been to mainland China just once, but he's longing to brush up on Mandarin and give it another go in the future. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.The Fool has a disclosure policy.