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ByteDance founder to step back after delivering 93% profits surge
People walking past the Bytedance headquarters in Beijing, China. Photo: Reuters

With Beijing’s regulators circling, the TikTok owner’s CEO Zhang Yiming has decided now is the time to let someone else take the lead at one of the world’s biggest private tech companies


ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming has announced he is to take a step back from the company – in the same week it was reported the TikTok owner’s profits soared 93% to $19 billion last year.

The Chinese firm’s CEO told staff on Thursday that he’s already shifting away from the chief executive’s daily responsibilities, as the the Wall Street Journal was reporting ByteDance’s net loss for 2020 totalled $45 billion, while revenue last year more than doubled to $34.3 billion.

In May, Zhang unexpectedly announced that he will step down as CEO amid Chinese’ regulators’ tightening scrutiny of the country’s biggest tech firms.

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He said at the time he would move to a “key strategy” role and complete the transition work with his successor Liang Rubo by the end of this year.

Zhang remains chairman of Beijing-based ByteDance and has the absolute voting power at the company. 

The company told staff at the same meeting that last year’s $45 billion loss was partly attributable to accounting norms for share-based compensation of employees. 


It has been reported that ByteDance, one of the world’s biggest private tech companies with an estimated value of about $300 billion in recent trades, had a revenue goal of around $30 billion for 2020. 

ByteDance boasted 1.9 billion global monthly users in December 2020 for all its apps including TikTok, its Chinese version Douyin and news aggregator Jinri Toutiao.


  • Reporting by Reuters


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Sean OMeara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.

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