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Zhang Yiming, founder of Bytedance, in Beijing, China, in 2019. Photo: Gilles Sabrie/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Zhang Yiming, co-founder of TikTok owner ByteDance, is stepping down as CEO and moving to a new role, the company said in a memo released Thursday.

Why it matters: The replacement of Zhang with human resources chief Liang Rubo, another TikTok co-founder, marks the "biggest corporate shake-up" at the firm since it launched in 2012, going on to become a major social media player in China and turning TikTok into a massive global force, per Reuters, which first reported the news.

The big picture: The move follows a tumultuous few months for the Chinese-owned company, which former President Trump regularly criticized.

What to expect: Zhang will move into a "key strategy" position later in the year.

  • In the meantime, he and Liang "will work side by side over the next six months to ensure the smoothest possible transition," ByteDance said in the memo.

What they're saying: "There are still many things that we need to improve, and I think someone else can better drive progress through areas like improved daily management. The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager," Zhang said in the memo to employees.

  • "I'm more interested in analyzing organizational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work, rather than actually managing people."

Of note: Last month, TikTok named ByteDance CFO Shouzi Chew as its CEO, and Vanessa Pappas, who previously served as interim head of the company, as the video-sharing platform's COO after TikTok's former CEO Kevin Mayer resigned during tensions with Trump.

Go deeper

May 18, 2021 - World

Beijing's antitrust push poses a problem for Western regulators

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government's anti-monopoly machinery presents a major challenge to U.S. and European regulators, a new book argues.

Why it matters: China's huge markets are attracting investment from multinational corporations and shaping the behavior of its own globe-trotting companies — giving international heft to the country's idiosyncratic antitrust enforcement and putting it on a collision course with Western-style regulation.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
10 mins ago - Economy & Business

Get ready for more debt ceiling drama

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It was bliss while it lasted — which was exactly two years. Right now, the U.S. has no limit on the amount of debt it can issue. But that ends on Saturday.

Why it matters: Brace yourself for another round of unedifying posturing and brinkmanship, all of which should result — after a period of entirely unnecessary fiscal contortion — in the debt ceiling being raised (not abolished) sometime this fall.

Olympic athletes see more sponsorship opportunities

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tokyo 2020 athletes are cashing in on more personal sponsorship opportunities compared with past Games.

Why it matters: Marketing deals are an important income stream for competitors, nearly 60% of whom say they are not financially stable.