BEIJING, February 7 (TMTPOST)—Zhang Nan, CEO of Douyin Group, announced her resignation as CEO on WeChat, and will focus on the development of the Bytedance product CapCut in the future.
Liang Rubo, CEO of ByteDance, expressed his gratitude for Zhang’s long-term contributions to leading China’s information platform business and looks forward to her continued contributions in her new position. It is reported that Zhang Nan will continue to report to Liang.
Zhang said that she would be joining the team of Capcut, a video editing app owned by ByteDance, and would help grow the product in the age of artificial intelligence (AI).
Zhang, who has worked at ByteDance for ten years, has been a core leader for the company and helped grow Douyin into the leading short video platform and one of biggest apps in China.
Zhang had developed a photo community app in early years. Her company was later acquired by ByteDance, and she joined ByteDance with her team in 2014. She was one of the founders of Douyin and witnessed Douyin growing stronger from ground up. In 2020, Zhang became Douyin’s first female CEO and the CEO of ByteDance China, fully responsible for Douyin, Volcano Engine, market brands, among other businesses.
A person close to CapCut revealed that over the past year, Zhang has channeled the majority of her energy to CapCut-related business and personally led the team to seek breakthroughs in AI-assisted creation. She is about to launch a product that generates images and videos with AI.
In an internal letter, Zhang said that she has been more involved in CapCut-related business and strategic discussions since 2023 and was ready for being all-in for a long time. "But when this moment actually came, I feel really excited."
Public information shows that CapCut-related products have developed rapidly in the past three years. As of 2021, the monthly active users of CapCut have exceeded 100 million, making it the largest mobile video editing app in China.
After Zhang's resignation, the company has no plan to appoint a new CEO, said sources close to Douyin Group.
Prior to today’s organizational change, ByteDance underwent another major personnel reshuffle on May 20, 2021 as then CEO Zhang Yiming announced in an internal memo that he would step down as CEO. Co-founder Liang Rubo took over as the new CEO.
Expressing his determination to let go of daily management responsibilities at the company he co-founded, Zhang Yiming aimed to focus on long-term strategic matters, corporate culture, and social responsibility.
He outlined plans to "focus on learning, systematic thinking, researching new things, hands-on experimentation, and experience, to create more possibilities for the company within ten years."
Liang, a co-founder of ByteDance and Zhang Yiming's college classmate and roommate, once jointly founded the real estate search platform "99fang" with Zhang Yiming in 2009.
Liang assumed various roles within ByteDance, including head of product development, head of a productivity app Lark, and head of group human resources and management.
Zhang Yiming had previously mentioned, "Since the founding of the company, everything has been done with Liang’s assistance, from purchasing and installing servers, taking over a system, personnel recruitment, to the construction of corporate systems and management."
Liang, in taking on the responsibilities of CEO, has consistently focused on organizational development, as shown from the information released by ByteDance.
Starting in 2020, Liang took charge of group human resources and management, contributing to the organizational development and talent growth of ByteDance. During the period from 2020 to 2021, ByteDance's global workforce grew from 60,000 to 100,000 employees.
In November 2021, when officially assuming the role of CEO at ByteDance, Liang announced an organizational adjustment. ByteDance began implementing a Business Unit (BU) structure, establishing six business segments: Douyin, Dali Education, Lark, Volcano Engine, NUVERSE, and TikTok.
Just a week before the announcement of Zhang's resignation as CEO of TikTok Group, during the ByteDance annual all-hands meeting for 2024 on January 30, Liang, along with representatives from other departments, communicated with all employees.
Liang said that all employees of ByteDance should bear in mind "always being entrepreneurial, and avoid falling into the trap of mediocrity" in 2024.
During the sharing session, he reiterated "sense of crisis" and included "strengthening the sense of crisis" as an annual goal. He openly expressed concern that the biggest crisis ByteDance faces is the risk of becoming mediocre as an organization, unable to achieve new breakthroughs. Furthermore, he noted that many people have provided feedback that ByteDance now has "all the typical problems of a large company."
To address these issues, he believes it is necessary to steer clear from complacency, raise the bar, and build an efficient organization.
In addition, he outlined three goals for ByteDance in 2024, with organizational management culture as the top priority, followed by enhancing social trust, and keeping laser-focus on a few important matters in the business.