ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming steps down as chairman amid reshuffle

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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 first-hand knowledge of the matter told CNBC.

ByteDance owns TikTok, the popular short video app.

Zhang announced his resignation as CEO of ByteDance in May and said he will take a strategic position this year.

Liang Rubo, who took over as CEO, will now also assume the role of 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 of smartphone maker Xiaomi in March, will step down as CFO to focus full-time on his other role as CEO of TikTok.

The Beijing-based company has also created six business units to focus on different areas, from games to business software.

When Zhang announced his intention to step down as CEO in May, he told employees in a note that he believed someone else could “better advance areas such as management improvement. daily”.

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

ByteDance was caught in the geopolitical crosshairs last year after President Donald Trump’s administration called the company a threat to national security and tried to force it to sell its operations to the United States. In the end, that did not happen.

The reorganization of ByteDance comes after a number of reshuffles at Chinese companies in which the founders have stepped down from their day-to-day functions.

Last week, Su Hua, the co-founder of TikTok rival Kuaishou, stepped down as CEO but remained chairman. And in September, Richard Liu, the founder of e-commerce giant, stepped down from day-to-day operations to focus on the company’s long-term strategy.

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