Zhang Yiming, the 38-year-old boss of Bytedance, set out the reasons for the move in an unusually candid memo addressed to the company’s staff. “The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager,” he confessed. The timing may simply be linked to the needs of his fast-growing company as it prepares for an initial public offering that is expected to value the group at between $250bn and $400bn. But it comes at a time of growing international suspicion about China’s activities abroad, and unpredictability in domestic politics.
Liang Rubo, with whom Zhang shared a dorm at Nankai University near Beijing before they co-founded Bytedance, will take the helm of the group, whose revenues doubled to $35bn last year. It was not immediately clear whether Zhang would stay on as chair after Thursday’s announcement.