When former President Trump was waging his war against TikTok last year, some commentators focused on how ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming had failed to anticipate the political headwinds he would face as the first Chinese firm to create a successful global product. As it turned out, it was the Chinese government much more than the U.S. that Zhang had to fear.
On Thursday, Zhang became the second top Chinese tech leader to give up his job, following Colin Huang from Pinduoduo in March. Both departures are seen as a response to the government’s crackdown on big tech companies that also resulted in Ant Group scrapping plans to go public last fall and likely contributed to Ant CEO Simon Hu quitting in March. In China, it doesn’t pay to be too successful.