ByteDance, the company that owns social media platform TikTok, said on Thursday that co-founder Zhang Yiming will step down from the position of the chief executive officer, reported Reuters. Co-founder Rubo Liang, who was heading the human resources department, will take over as the next CEO.
In a memo to company employees, 38-year-old Zhang said that he would have a greater impact in the company’s longer-term initiatives if he stepped down from the role of the CEO. Zhang will hold a key strategic role in the company at the end of 2021, the company said.
Zhang said that he lacks some of the skills that make for 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,” he said. “Similarly, I’m not very social, preferring solitary activities like being online, reading, listening to music, and contemplating what may be possible.”
He said that the everyday challenges of being the CEO were creating hurdles for research and innovation. Zhang said he will work with Liang over the next six months to ensure a smooth transition. However, he did not say if he would give up his voting rights.
Unidentified officials have told Reuters that Zhang owns 20%-30% of the company and holds over 50% of voting rights. The company has also not commented on it.
The company has witnessed changes in its managerial roles recently. Less than a month ago, ByteDance’s Chief Financial Officer Shouzi Chew became the CEO of TikTok, taking over from the interim chief Vanessa Pappas, reported CNBC. Pappas is now the chief operating officer.
The decision also came amid Chinese regulators increasing their scrutiny of the country’s biggest technology firms, which includes ByteDance.
In April, they had charged e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding with a $2.8 billion (more than Rs 20,000 crore) fine for anti-competitive practices. Again last month, anti-trust regulators had told technology conglomerate Tencent Holdings that they are going to fine it around $1.55 billion (approximately Rs 11,000 crore).
Further, the company had faced trouble in the United States. Former President Donald Trump had sought to force ByteDance to divest control of its application, TikTok, on concerns that it could be used by Chinese intelligence.