ByteDance founder set to pass the CEO baton to HR Head

ByteDance founder set to pass the CEO baton to HR Head


"Wearing two hats at a company as sizeable as ByteDance is just too stressful," ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yi-ming shared.

ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yi-ming announced he is stepping down from his current role, and has appointed Head of Human Resources Liang Ru-bo as his successor. The transition is expected to take place at the end of the year, in an internal letter to employees, shared on the company's blog. Over the next six months, they will work together to ensure a smooth transition. 

Zhang will remain as the chairman of the company but he will not handle day-to-day duties anymore.

He cited many reasons for this decision, the foremost of which was the intention to "drive innovation, by drawing on my strengths of highly-focused learning, systematic thought, and a willingness to attempt new things," adding that "someone else can better drive progress through areas like improved daily management."

"I'm more interested in analysing organisational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work, rather than actually managing people," Zhang said, as he candidly added: "The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager."

He also shared his intention to give back to society, noting that he has already made some headway, exploring new initiatives in education, brain disease research and digitising ancient books.

"Wearing two hats at a company as sizeable as ByteDance is just too stressful," he added.

In his resignation letter, Zhang also pointed out his concern about his overarching power at the company .

"I said that often when companies mature and expand, many fall into the trap of the CEO becoming overly central — listening to presentations, handling approvals, and making decisions reactively. This leads to an over-reliance on existing ideas already in the company, and results in knowledge structures being slow to iterate. In order to avoid this trap, I gradually came to a decision over the last six months to take on a new role at ByteDance," he wrote.

On the selection of ByteDance Co-founder and HR Head Liang Ru-bo to become the new CEO, Yiming said he was chosen because of "his strengths in management, organisation and social engagement". Zhang further called Liang "an invaluable partner", as he has helped him accomplish countless duties such as coding for new systems, buying and installing servers, and developing key recruitment and corporate policies and management systems etc.

Liang has taken on numerous critical roles at ByteDance at different times, including Head of R&D, Lark and Efficiency Engineering, and most recently, Human Resources and Management. 

In addition to being the co-founder of ByteDance, he is also Zhang's former roommate from their university days and had worked closely with Zhang at a real estate website before ByteDance. 

Founded in 2012, ByteDance is best known for its viral video app, TikTok. 

sam may bytedance

ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yi-ming (left) and ByteDance Co-founder and HR Head Liang Ru-bo (right)

Photo/ ByteDance

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