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Billionaire Zhang Yiming Steps Down As ByteDance Chairman

By News Creatives Authors , in Billionaires , at November 3, 2021

Chinese billionaire Zhang Yiming has stepped down as chairman of TikTok owner ByteDance, joining a host of other tech entrepreneurs who had recently retreated from running their companies amid mounting government scrutiny of the internet sector.

Zhang, who resigned as the CEO of ByteDance in May, has also decided to relinquish his role as chairman and exit ByteDance’s board, according to a person familiar with the matter. Liang Rubo, who took over the position of CEO, will also succeed Zhang as chairman, the person said.

A ByteDance spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. At just 38 years of age, Zhang has managed to amass a fortune of $59.4 billion that has catapulted him past Tencent’s Pony Ma and made him China’s second-richest person, according to the Real-Time Billionaires List. He derives his wealth from ownership in Beijing-based ByteDance, which operates popular apps including news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, short video platform TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin.

Zhang will spend his time as company advisor and focus on long-term strategies, the aforementioned person said. When he stepped down as CEO in May, the entrepreneur wrote in an internal letter stating that he lacked the skills of an ideal manager, and he was more interested in “analyzing organizational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work.”

Still, Zhang’s decision to step down follows several other technology billionaires who also said that they would give up leadership roles at their companies, as Chinese regulators launch a series of enforcement actions ranging from anti-trust business practices to curbing online addiction.

Just last week, Su Hua, the billionaire cofounder of short-video apps owner Kuaishou, stepped down as chief executive, although he will continue to work as chairman. Colin Huang, founder of e-commerce site Pinduoduo, resigned as chairman in March and said at the time he’d pursue research in food and life sciences.

ByteDance, in the meantime, is also making a separate suite of management reshuffles. Shou Zi Chew, who the company hired from smartphone maker Xiaomi earlier this year, has stepped down as chief financial officer to run TikTok full time. ByteDance will also create six business units including TikTok, Douyin and work collaboration platform Lark, Forbes reported on Tuesday.


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