Amid all the craze about coronavirus pandemic, Bytedance has made clear its most aggressive international ambitions. 

At the 8th anniversary of the company’s founding (as Toutiao), founder Zhang Yiming announced that Zhang Lidong and Kelly Zhang are appointed as Chairman & CEO of its China business respectively. 

Zhang is a very common name in China, carried by between 80 – 100 million individuals, according to various statistics. 

“As the global CEO of Bytedance, I will spend more time on Europe/US and other global markets, strengthen the global management team together with Alex, and help new colleagues including Erich Andersen and Roland Cloutier better integrate with the team,” Zhang Yiming said. 

He said he would also focus on: 

  1. Study on how to better manage large international organisations; 
  2. Study how tech companies can create more social value;
  3. Plan new strategic areas such as education; 

These appointments will no doubt liberate Zhang Yiming from the daily management of Bytedance’s businesses in China, including Toutiao, Douyin (Tik Tok’s domestic version) and other content apps. Bytedance’s portfolio also includes Lark – a Slack like business collaboration suite. 

He is young

This also coincides with strong market gossips that Bytedance is hiring massively in Singapore to build its ad exchange. It already had a team in Singapore working on Lark. 

And there is nothing more significant than the Founder himself personally driving it. Allegedly he spent almost two thirds of his time exploring global markets last year. 

Bytedance’s Tik Tok is one of the rare runway successes of big Chinese tech companies trying to expand outside., Baidu, and even Tencent are not particularly successful operating (note: not investing) in international markets.  

Alibaba has also been facing severe challenges in its efforts. 

Bytedance has, in addition to its experience in Tik Tok, another key advantage: Yiming Zhang is only 36 years old. 


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