Zhang Yiming, Chief Executive Officer at ByteDance Inc., the parent company behind viral video sharing and social media platform TikTok, has decided to let go of his position, and will be stepping down as the head of the start-up that currently sits at one of the highest market values in the tech business.
His move comes barely days before the company is all set to make its public debut, through an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Yiming will give way to his ex-college roommate and current Human Resources Chief, Rubo Liang.
The decision comes in the wake of the ByteDance Chief feeling an excessive burden on himself, due to the growing business. He however, will continue to own the company as the Chairperson.
Taking a backseat however, does not mean that Zhang will completely turn his face away from company issues. He will now mainly confine himself to taking decisions about the long-term goals and strategy of the firm.
Meanwhile, the company is all ready for an IPO offering, which could either be taking place in Hong Kong, or in the United States.
The social media platform is also stepping into the e-commerce domain which could mean significant competition for fellow Chinese firms Alibaba and Meituan.
In a memo revealing his decision, Zhang said, “I feel I did not achieve as much as I had hoped to on my previous objectives in the areas of new strategic opportunities, organizational management, and social responsibility,” adding that taking a step back from the post of the company’s head will allow him to focus better on long-term planning.
Yiming’s move comes at a time when the strict Chinese government is taking several measures to put a hold on the reach and power of social media platforms, as well as their owners (Yiming included).
Yiming had already been giving away parts of his responsibilities to his subordinates, before deciding to step down from his position entirely. Last year, two executive positions were set up, for overseeing the company’s operations in China, even as Zhang himself continued to focus on the global market, especially in the US. He has only recently relegated the position of the company’s America-branch CEO to Shouzi Chew, who has only recently joined the firm, after having been financial head at Xiaomi.
The transfer of power from Yiming to Liang will not be abrupt, and instead, will take place gradually, over the course of six months. The two will, for now, be working side-by-side.
Apart from TikTok, BytaDance is also home to Toutiao, the extremely popular news service, as well as Douyin, another video sharing service that enjoys significant popularity in China. The company’s shares are now valued at more than $250 million, placing Yiming among the world’s richest people.
The responsibilities awaiting Liang, who had co-founed ByteDance in 2009 along with Yiming himself, include venturing into new areas of e-commerce and education services. The company is also eyeing gaining more revenue through advertisements on Toutiao and Douyin, even as it works hard to take on Chinese giants Alibaba and Tenecet.