ByteDance Chairman Zhang Yiming To Step Down

Another major shakeup at TikTok’s owner ByteDance, after former CEO and co-founder Zhang Yiming confirms departure as chairman

Shakeup at TikTok’s owner ByteDance continues after another major change in the management of the Beijing-based firm.

ByteDance co-founder and former CEO Zhang Yiming is stepping down as chairman of the company, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told CNBC.

In May this year Zhang Yiming announced he was to step down as CEO and hand over the reins to fellow co-founder Rubo Liang. Yiming said he move into a strategy role and became chairman.

Major shakeup

At the time, Yiming explained he was not a social person and had no interest in actually managing people.

“The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager,” he said at that time.

But now CNBC reported that Yiming has stepped down as chairman, and Liang Rubo, who took over as CEO, will now also take up the role as chairman.

There has been a huge reorganisation at ByteDance this week.

Shou Zi Chew, who joined ByteDance as CFO from smartphone maker Xiaomi in March, will step down from his role as finance chief to focus full time on his other job as CEO of TikTok.

Another change sees ByteDance create six business units to focus on different areas from gaming to enterprise software.

When Zhang announced his plans to step down as CEO in May, he said in a note to employees that he believed someone else can “better drive progress through areas like improved daily management.”

This is not the first management change at Beijing-based ByteDance and TikTok.

In August 2020, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer stepped down after just two months in charge, amid a legal tussle with the US government after former President Donald Trump signed an executive order to prohibit US companies from carrying out TikTok-related deals with ByteDance.

Trump tussle

The Trump administration had ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok to a US buyer as part of an order from the Trump administration.

But Trump left office in January 2021, and in February US President Joe Biden halted TikTok’s purchase by Oracle and Walmart.

In June Biden then withdrew a series of executive orders signed by former President Donald Trump, that targetted Chinese firms.

There are also a number of reshuffles at Chinese companies, in which founders have stepped back from their day-to-day duties.

CNBC reported that last week, Su Hua, the co-founder of TikTok rival Kuaishou stepped down as CEO but stayed on as chairman.

And in September, Richard Liu, the founder of e-commerce giant, stepped back from day-to-day operations to focus on the company’s long-term strategy.