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ByteDance CEO and co-founder Zhang Yiming announces departure

Fellow co-founder Liang Rubo to step up

ByteDance CEO and co-founder Zhang Yiming announces departure

ByteDance co-founder and CEO Zhang Yiming has revealed that he will leave the position by the end of 2021.

Announced via an internal letter to employees (then via a blog post on the official website), fellow co-founder and HR head Liang Rubo will take over as the new CEO.

Both will work alongside one another over the next six months to transition the role across.

ByteDance was founded in 2012 and has expanded heavily into the video game sector over the last few years - notably, launching a mobile games store and publishing arm in November 2020.

The Bejing-based firm also owns the video-sharing social space TikTok, which has an estimated 700 million active monthly users. App Annie expects the platform to reach 1.2 billion users in 2021.

"Need to improve"

"There are still many things that we need to improve, and I think someone else can better drive progress through areas like improved daily management," said Yiming via the letter to ByteDance employees.

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

On the company's success with the social phenomenon that is TikTok, Yiming explained that he's not "very social" and much prefers "solitary activities". This is why he expects Rubo to be a better fit for the role at this time.

After departing the position, Yiming will remain at ByteDance and begin to look at the company's long-term strategy, culture, and social responsibility.

Zhang Yiming (left) will transition the CEO position to Liang Rubo (right) over the next six months.

Hong Kong-based developer and publisher Nuverse, a subsidiary of ByteDance, recently acquired fellow Chinese developer C4games.

Nuverse also invested Czech $6 million (€5 million) into Czech developer Madfinger Games to help expand the team.

Deputy Editor

Matthew Forde is the deputy editor at and also a member of the Pocket Gamer Podcast. You can find him on Twitter @MattForde64 talking about stats, data and everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes.