Two investors in TikTok owner ByteDance said they supported Thursday’s surprise announcement by founder Zhang Yiming that he is stepping down as CEO of the world’s most valuable privately-held technology company. The move by Zhang to play a less prominent role and hand the reins to a trusted confidant, co-founder Liang Rubo, was an unfortunate but necessary measure amid a growing crackdown by Chinese regulators of the country’s most powerful companies and founders, these investors told The Information.
A future ByteDance initial public offering will likely make Zhang, who owns more than 20% of the company, China’s wealthiest person. If he were to maintain his CEO position, Zhang and ByteDance could become a bigger target in Beijing’s effort to increase its control over private industry, the investors said. The timing of a ByteDance IPO is unclear and last month the company said it had no imminent plans to go public.