Zhang Yiming, the CEO and co-founder of ByteDance, announced on Wednesday that he's stepping down from his job. Liang Rubo, a ByteDance co-founder and the company's current HR head, will become the new CEO.
In a letter to ByteDance's team, Zhang said that he felt he'd been underperforming. "Frankly, I feel I did not achieve as much as I had hoped to on my previous objectives in the areas of new strategic opportunities, organizational management, and social responsibility," he wrote. "Since the beginning of this year, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how to better drive real long-term breakthroughs, which cannot simply rely on steady, but incremental, progress." By stepping out of the CEO role, he said, he hoped he could get back to dreaming bigger and planning the company's next decade.
While Zhang attributed the change to his own desires and lack of managerial skills, it has clearly been a tumultuous year at ByteDance. The last few weeks have seen a lot of change at the top of ByteDance, with Shouzi Chew being named TikTok's new CEO at the end of April. Rumors have swirled for months that ByteDance is preparing for an enormous IPO, alongside reports that those plans have been waylaid by tensions between the Chinese government and some of the country's largest tech companies.
The CEO transition will happen over the next six months, Zhang said.
David Pierce (
@pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.