ByteDance CEO steps aside for fellow founder - Mobile World Live

ByteDance CEO steps aside for fellow founder

20 MAY 2021

ByteDance co-founder and CEO Zhang Yiming revealed plans to quit as chief at the end of the year, with long-term business partner Liang Rubo set to take the reins.

In a letter to employees Zhang said the move would allow him to focus on long-term initiatives at the company rather than day-to-day tasks, pointing to a desire to investigate future technologies and drive social initiatives.

He admitted there had been a lack of movement on his existing aims of pursuing strategic opportunities, organisational management and social responsibility at the business.

In the frank note, the executive said he wanted to avoid falling into the trap of being an “overly central” CEO who spent his time “listening to presentations, handling approvals, and making decisions reactively”.

“This leads to an over-reliance on existing ideas already in the company, and results in knowledge structures being slow to iterate,” he added.

Zhang said there are “still many things that we need to improve, and I think someone else can better drive progress through areas like improved daily management”.

“The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager,” Zhang added. “I’m more interested in analysing organisational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work, rather than actually managing people.”

New chief Liang co-founded ByteDance with Zhang in 2012 and is currently head of HR. He will take over fully after a six-month transition period.

ByteDance runs a number of apps including TikTok and Chinese variant Douyin, along with enterprise platform Lark.



Chris Donkin

Chris joined the Mobile World Live team in November 2016 having previously worked at a number of UK media outlets including Trinity Mirror, The Press Association and UK telecoms publication Mobile News. After spending 10 years in journalism, he moved...

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