Technology

TikTok boss resigns: ‘I lack the skills to be an ideal leader’


Zhang Yiming announced that he will step down as CEO of ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, handing power to his college roommate Rubo Liang.

Zhang Yiming said he lacks some skills to be an ideal leader. Zhang also described himself as “uncivilized” and lacking in management skills.

TikTok’s appeal has not only created a new generation of social media stars, but also made co-founder Zhang Yiming the 33rd richest billionaire in the world.

He is worth $44.5 billion thanks to co-founding ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the short video app TikTok.

Despite being one of the richest people in the world, Mr. Zhang is particularly tight-lipped about his personal life.

He recently announced his resignation as CEO of ByteDance after running for nearly a decade, calling himself “uncivilized” and lacking in management skills. He prefers private activities such as going online, reading books, listening to music and thinking about what might happen.

“The reality is that I lack some of the skills that make an ideal leader,” Zhang said. Mr. Zhang said that it would be better to support the company if it did not directly manage human resources.

Mr. Zhang was born in 1983 in Fujian, China; whose name means “surprise people at the first attempt”.

He worked at Microsoft before founding ByteDance. TikTok’s parent company was founded in 2012 and is currently worth about $250 billion, making it the largest privately held company in the world. Not only owning TikTok, ByteDance also has a number of other social networking applications in China, such as FlipChat, Duoshan.

Zhang introduced TikTok in September 2016 under the name “Douyin”. In 2020, Business Insider reported that TikTok was the number 1 iOS app in the US (excluding games). It is one of the most popular social networks among young Americans, downloaded more than 1 billion times. Currently, the Chinese version retains the Douyin name, while the international version is TikTok.

TikTok’s global popularity makes his life more interesting. He wants the app to continue to grow and expects ByteDance to be able to operate without borders like Google. To do that, Mr. Zhang said, “must work harder, have to be more perfect…. Chinese entrepreneurs have to improve their capabilities as they go out into the world.”

However, TikTok’s growing influence raises many concerns from US authorities. In July 2020, US President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok because of a security risk, forcing ByteDance to negotiate selling TikTok’s US operations to potential buyers. The incident caused Mr. Zhang to be attacked by Chinese social media, calling him a traitor and coward. However, ByteDance ultimately did not sign any agreement after Joe Biden was elected US President.

Mr. Zhang’s success today is tied to his work ethic. Mr. Zhang learned the value of pursuing excellence while in his first job.

“At that time, I was in charge of technology, but when the product had a problem, I also actively participated in the discussion of the solution. A lot of people say this is something I shouldn’t do. However, I would say: your sense of responsibility and your passion for doing things well will lead you to do more and gain more experience.”

DT Du Lam (According to Reuters, BI)

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