ByteDance’s CEO has announced his resignation from the firm, which rose to become the world’s most successful startup thanks to its success with TikTok.
Zhang Yiming, who co-founded ByteDance in 2012, will take on a new role at the firm, and Liang Rubo, another co-founder, will take over as CEO. At the moment, Liang is in charge of HR at ByteDance.
According to a source familiar with the situation, the 38-year-old billionaire entrepreneur plans to relinquish much of his day-to-day responsibilities because they were becoming a growing strain on his time. Mr. Zhang would now concentrate on long-term strategy.
Zhang ruminated on his job and how he believes he’d be more successful in a different role in a lengthy internal letter that ByteDance later made public. Zhang says “I worry I am still relying too much on the ideas I had before starting the company, and haven’t challenged myself by updating those concepts.”
“I think someone else can better drive progress through areas like improved daily management,” he continues. “The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager. I’m more interested in analyzing organizational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work, rather than actually managing people. Similarly, I’m not very social, preferring solitary activities like being online, reading, listening to music, and daydreaming about what may be possible.”
Zhang refers to Liang as an “invaluable partner,” and the two began talking about him taking over as CEO of ByteDance in March. Zhang’s new position will concentrate on “long-term strategy, corporate culture, and social responsibility,” according to the organization, and the transition will take place over the next six months.
Zhang created ByteDance in 2012 before launching Toutiao, a popular news service, and TikTok, a viral global video app, with the help of highly refined AI recommendation engines. Toutiao, which means “headlines” in Chinese, was his first major hit.
TikTok has become a global phenomenon, while Douyin is the most popular app in China. According to people familiar with the transactions, the founder is now among the world’s wealthiest people after ByteDance shares exchanged in the private sector for more than $US250 billion.
Liang, like Zhang, is an entrepreneur who will lead ByteDance into new areas such as e-commerce and educational devices. Zhang said in a public speech in 2016 that he and the low-profile executive studied microelectronics at Tianjin’s Nankai University and shared a computer for coding. In 2009, the two co-founded 99fang.com, a real estate search engine, before collaborating on ByteDance three years later.
The announcement marks a significant shift in ByteDance’s corporate leadership, but it shouldn’t have a significant impact on TikTok’s day-to-day operations. After hiring him in March to take over as CFO of the parent company, ByteDance announced last month that former Xiaomi CFO Chew Shouzi would assume the position of dedicated TikTok CEO.
Chew succeeded Vanessa Pappas, who had been in charge of the organization on an interim basis after former Disney executive Kevin Mayer resigned after less than four months on the job. Mayer made the decision due to the social network’s political difficulties in the United States, though Trump administration efforts to ban it or compel a divestment failed.