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China Daily Global / 2021-05 / 21 / Page008

ByteDance CEO Zhang hands over baton to Liang

By CHENG YU | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-05-21 00:00

Billionaire Zhang Yiming, the founder of ByteDance, will step down as chief executive officer and hand over the reins to co-founder Liang Rubo later this year as the Chinese social media company gears up for the unprecedented changes both at home and abroad.

In an internal letter to employees, the 38-year-old Zhang, who founded several successful apps like TikTok, said he is making the transition to spend more time on "long-term strategy, corporate culture, and social responsibility".

"Although the business has been developing well, we hope that the company will continue to make greater innovations and breakthroughs, and become more creative and meaningful," said Zhang.

Zhang's decision to relinquish charge comes on the heels of several management changes at ByteDance over the past few months. Last month, ByteDance named its chief financial officer Zhou Shouzi as CEO of TikTok. Zhou spent several years as CFO and international business president of Xiaomi Corp.

The billionaire said that since the beginning of this year, he had spent a lot of time thinking about how to better drive real long-term breakthroughs, which cannot simply rely on steady, but incremental, progress.

"I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager and am more interested in analyzing organizational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work, rather than actually managing people," he said.

"Similarly, I am not very social, preferring solitary activities like being online, reading, listening to music, and contemplating what may be possible," he said.

Wang Peng, an associate professor at the Hillhouse Research Institute of Renmin University of China, said:"For ByteDance, its corporate strategy must be repositioned in order to adapt to the changing internal and external environment. This inevitably involves major adjustments in the leadership team, management structure and other personnel."

Last August, the Beijing-headquartered company was also dubbed a national security threat by the United States government and ordered to divest its TikTok business in that country.

"To expand in the overseas market, it is common that ByteDance would hire and change its talents, no matter from home or abroad, to suit its future diversified development," said Wang.

According to the company, Liang Rubo, who is currently head of human resources, will take over as CEO of ByteDance globally and Zhang will move into a key strategy role by the end of this year.

Liang said the new role would be a huge challenge, but expressed confidence that through joint efforts, the company would be able to "continue making breakthroughs and reach new heights."

"Leading Chinese internet firms have been adjusting their business strategies recently due to the increased scrutiny on monopolistic behavior. The country's faster-than-expected internet development has led to some blank spaces in market regulations," said Wang Chikun, an independent economist.


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