Zhang Yiming, Chief Executive Officer of Bytedance, which is the parent company of popular social media app, TikTok, has made public his intention to step down from his role in the company.
According to Reuters, which quoted a statement from ByteDance, Zhang said the change would enable him “to have greater impact on longer-term initiatives.”
He will move to a “key strategy” position at the end of the year.
The widespread popularity of TikTok has not just created a new generation of social media stars, it has also created a social media billionaire.
The 38-year-old software engineer who founded the app’s parent company, ByteDance, now has a net worth of $44.5 billion, Bloomberg estimates.
Despite being one of the wealthiest people in China as ranked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Yiming is extremely private and little is known about his personal life.
Yiming, in a letter, pointed out the reasons for his decision to step down and pass the CEO position to his long-time colleague and college roommate, Liang Rubo, who is currently the head of human resources at Bytedance.
The engineer, who turned ByteDance into a social media force, said he was not in fact a social person.
He blamed the day-to-day challenges of a CEO as being a hurdle to research and innovation, while calling Liang “an invaluable partner” with “strengths in management, organization, and social engagement“.
Yiming wishes to spend more time on long-term strategy, corporate culture, and social responsibility.
In a note to his employees, he 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.
I’m more interested in analyzing organizational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work, rather than actually managing people. Similarly, I’m not very social, preferring solitary activities like being online, reading, listening to music, and daydreaming about what may be possible.
Yiming and Liang will now work “side by side over the next six months to ensure the smoothest possible transition.”
The move comes after a tumultuous nine months for ByteDance after it was dubbed a national security threat by former President Donald Trump’s administration last August and ordered to divest its TikTok business in the U.S. This sparked a bidding war between companies including Microsoft and Oracle.
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