Why did the CEO of the world’s most valuable start-up resign at the age of 38?

Tram Ho

“Since the beginning of this year, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to better drive real breakthroughs in the long-term, which can’t just be based on steady progress, but incrementally.” Zhang said in a letter to employees, admitting that he “lacks some skills to be an ideal manager”.

Zhang said his decision to step down as CEO of the world’s most valuable startup will help him “have a greater impact on long-term initiatives”. ByteDance co-founder and current head of human resources, Liang Rubo, will take over as CEO later this year, following a six-month transition period.

While Zhang’s words to employees were surprisingly straightforward, the young billionaire’s sudden departure comes amid a tougher operating environment for tech CEOs. China. Regulators have stepped up scrutiny of China’s once-favorite tech giants, and struggling tech workers are protesting their grueling work schedules.

Vì sao CEO của start-up giá trị nhất thế giới từ chức ở tuổi 38? - Ảnh 1.

Successfully navigating a company through a wave of change is a daunting task for any CEO, let alone one who has no interest in “really managing people,” as Zhang admits. .

Success through technology

Zhang founded Bytedance in 2012 as a news aggregator website called Today’s Headlines, otherwise known as Toutiao. The site’s intelligent algorithms, being able to customize the homepage to best suit any viewer’s preferences was a huge success, and Bytedance quickly became one of the most valuable tech start-ups. most powerful in China.

Zhang leveraged Toutiao’s growth to launch TikTok – the video-sharing app that has become the leading social network for US teens – as well as a host of other products. However, not all of Bytedance’s services are as popular with consumers or regulators as TikTok.

In 2018, Beijing ordered Bytedance to shut down its joke-sharing website for circulating ” vulgar and inappropriate content “, much to Zhang regret. ” This product has gone the wrong way and has content that deviates from the core values ​​of society, ” Zhang wrote on his personal account.

However, despite some conflicts over content, Bytedance has largely escaped scrutiny from Chinese regulators, which were in a campaign to contain the Big Tech group, which began when the publishers management blocked the $310 billion IPO of Ant Group, an Alibaba subsidiary, last November, after founder Jack Ma complained that China’s financial regulations were backward.

Since then, the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) – China’s antitrust watchdog – has put several tech giants under scrutiny, including Jack Ma’s Alibaba. and on-demand service leader Meituan. While the regulator has yet to remove Bytedance from its peers, the start-up was included in a list of 34 tech companies that SAMR warned needed to regulate competitive behavior in April.

Visible hand

Under Zhang’s leadership, Bytedance has done more than any other Chinese tech company in breaking into the US, dominating the market with its hugely successful TikTok app.

Last year, when the US threatened to ban TikTok unless Bytedance sold the app to an American company, Beijing created a new regulation requiring Bytedance to get regulatory approval before doing so. sale transaction.

According to The Information , Zhang was “blinded” to Beijing’s interference, as his company ” did not take the initiative ” to cultivate relationships with Chinese regulators and consult them about the future of TikTok. Difficulties in managing requests from Chinese and US regulators have also forced Bytedance to postpone an IPO.

To be successful and relevant, CEOs of technology providers need to put a lot of energy into maintaining good relationships with government. Not every CEO wants to devote their time and energy to the task. or have the right skills to do it, ” said Lian Jye Su, principal analyst at ABI Research in Singapore.

What is next?

Zhang isn’t the only young tech entrepreneur who passed away unexpectedly this year. In March, Pinduoduo founder and chairman Colin Huang stepped down from the board just as Pinduoduo overtook Alibaba to become China’s largest e-commerce site by users. In July 2020, Huang continued to resign as CEO.

As he left the board, Huang told shareholders he was stepping down to explore Pinduoduo’s future growth areas. Zhang is also doing the same thing.

After transferring the CEO role and removing day-to-day management responsibilities, I will have the space to explore long-term strategies, organizational culture and social responsibility, with a more objective view of the company. ty, ” said Zhang. This shows that he intends to maintain influence over Bytedance’s future.

According to Fortune


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Source : Genk