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ByteDance founder tells staff he's shifting away from CEO's daily work

n May, Zhang Yiming unexpectedly announced that he will step down as CEO of the TikTok owner amid Chinese' regulators' tightened scrutiny of the country's biggest technology firms.

Zhang Yiming, founder and global CEO of ByteDance.  Zhang Yiming, founder and global CEO of ByteDance. 
Zhang Yiming, founder and global CEO of ByteDance.  (REUTERS)

ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming told staff on Thursday that he's already shifting away from chief executive's daily responsibilities and his work pace is less intense, according to two people who attended the meeting.

In May, Zhang unexpectedly announced that he will step down as CEO of the TikTok owner amid Chinese' regulators' tightened scrutiny of the country's biggest technology firms. He said at the time he would move to a "key strategy" role and complete the transition work with his successor Liang Rubo by the end of this year.

Zhang told staff he is currently studying other companies' organizational structures and managing styles, and doing research on the education industry. Zhang remains chairman of ByteDance and has absolute voting power at the company.

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The company told staff at the same meeting that its total revenue more than doubled in 2020 to $34.3 billion and its net loss widened to $45 billion, according to a memo seen by Reuters. The wider loss was partly attributable to accounting norms for share-based compensation of employees, a person familiar with the matter said.

Reuters has reported that ByteDance, one of the world's biggest private tech companies with an estimated value of about $300 billion in recent trades, had a revenue goal of around $30 billion for 2020.

ByteDance posted an operating loss of $2 billion and a gross profit of $19 billion, representing 93% growth year-over-year, the company told employees in the staff meeting, upon which the memo was based.

Beijing-based ByteDance declined to comment on its financials or Zhang's remarks. It had 1.9 billion global monthly users in December 2020 for all its apps including TikTok, its Chinese version Douyin and news aggregator Jinri Toutiao.

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