Founder of TikTok owner ByteDance steps down as chairman as Chinese tech execs quit day-to-day roles – CNBC

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GUANGZHOU, China — ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming has stepped down as chairman, as the company continues to reorganize its business, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told CNBC.

ByteDance owns TikTok, the wildly popular short-video app.

Zhang announced his resignation as the CEO of ByteDance in May and said he would move into a strategy role this year.

Liang Rubo, who took over as CEO, will now also take up the role as chairman.

ByteDance declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.

The move comes after a huge reorganization 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.

The Beijing-headquartered firm has also created 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.”

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

ByteDance was caught in the geopolitical crosshairs last year after the administration of President Donald Trump dubbed the company a national security threat and tried to force it to sell its U.S. operations. That did not happen in the end.

ByteDance’s reorganization comes after a number of reshuffles at Chinese companies in which founders have stepped back from their day-to-day duties.

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 JD.com, stepped back from day-to-day operations to focus on the company’s long-term strategy.

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