ByteDance’s Founder Zhang Yiming Steps Down As Chairman, Following The Company’s Reorganization Plans

Following the announcement in May that he was going to step down from his role as Chairman, co-founder Zhang Yiming of ByteDance has stepped down from his role as Chairman of the company. The announcement comes as part of the company’s efforts at reorganizing its business.

In May, a memo sent out mentioned that Zhang Yiming would be stepping down as the company’s Chairman and would be replaced by Liang Rubo who is also a co-founder and the company’s human resource chief. In the memo, Zhang Yiming described Liang Rubo, the Head of Human Resources as “an invaluable partner”, and said that Liang Rubo has played the role of advancing the company by hiring and managing people very well. He also mentioned that he would be working with his successor over the next six months so that a smooth transition would take place.  

ByteDance is the parent company of the viral short video-sharing app TikTok. The Chinese multinational internet technology company was founded in March 2012 by Zhang Yiming and Liang Rubo and has its headquarters in Beijing. The company develops apps and TikTok is one of its most successful products.

Liang Rubo, who recently took on the role of CEO will be taking over as Chairman. This comes with the company’s reorganization strategy which has been ongoing for months. Zhang Yiming, while speaking about his decision to step down in May said that “The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager. I’m more interested in analysing 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 contemplating what may be possible”.

The decision to reorganize its business came after the company escaped the net of the Donald Trump Administration which was out to blacklist Chinese companies the administration deemed as security threats”. ByteDance announced in a recent memo that it has created six business units to maximize the company’s operations. The six units include Douyin, the Chinese version of viral short video-sharing service TikTok and ByteDance’s news aggregation service Toutiao; the second unit is Lark, its work collaboration division; the third is its education business, Dali. The remaining units are BytePlus, Nuverse and TikTok.

Zhang Yiming’s decision to step down comes at a time when it is the trend for founders of Chinese companies to step back from day-to-day duties. TikTok’s rival Kuaishou saw its CEO step down from the role last week. Richard Liu, the founder of the e-commerce company JD.com also stepped down recently stepped down from his everyday duties to focus on the company’s long-term strategy.

Yesterday, Shou Zi Chew stepped down as ByteDance’s Chief Financial Officer. While the company has refused to say anything, this is all part of its reorganization plans. Shou Zi Chew will be focusing on his role as TikTok’s Chief Executive Officer.

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