Zhang Yiming, the co-founder of TikTok owner ByteDance, told employees of the Chinese technology giant in an internal memo seen by Reuters on Thursday that he will step down as chief executive, to be succeeded by co-founder Rubo Liang.
The move represents the biggest corporate shake-up at ByteDance since its launch in 2012. The company grew to become a dominant social media force in China and turned TikTok, a short-video app popular with teenagers, into a global sensation.
Zhang wrote in the memo that Liang, whose most recent role at ByteDance was head of human resources, has been “an invaluable partner”, advancing the company’s technology and hiring and managing people. He added that he would work with Liang over the next six months to ensure a smooth transition.
Zhang wrote in the memo that he concluded after several months of deliberation that he would have a greater impact on ByteDance’s longer-term initiatives if he transitioned out of the CEO role.
“The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make 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,” Zhang wrote.
“Similarly, I’m not very social, preferring solitary activities like being online, reading, listening to music, and contemplating what may be possible,” he added.
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