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ByteDance’s Toutiao welcomes new CEO following management reshuffle (updated)

Zhu Wenjia is the new CEO of Jinri Toutiao, while former CEO Chen Lin will reportedly focus on ByteDance’s new initiatives.

Zhu Wenjia, formerly known as the CTO of Jinri Toutiao, the flagship news aggregator of the world’s most valuable startup ByteDance, delivered a speech this morning at a conference held by ByteDance as Toutiao CEO for the first time, local media outlet Tencent News reported.

This confirms previous reports indicating that Zhu will be succeeding Chen Lin as the news app’s CEO. It’s unclear yet what Chen’s new position will be, or who will be sliding into Toutiao’s CTO post.

KrASIA reported earlier that ByteDance was undergoing a management reshuffle in September, in which Chen, then-CEO, would reportedly depart away from the relatively mature business to put his focus on new initiatives such as social apps Duoshan, Feiliao, and workplace cooperation tool Lark, while Zhu would report directly to Zhang Yiming, the founder of ByteDance.

At the Shengji Conference held by the company, Zhu, who joined Toutiao in 2015 as an ex-Baiduer, said that the goal of the news aggregator is to develop a “generic information platform” to connect users with “a bigger world.”

He mentioned two paths to achieve this mark, a “richer content” and “more distribution channels.”

The current distribution channels and content forms of Toutiao. 

The company is already making efforts to diversify its channels, such as the introduction of Toutiao Search, an online search portal launched in August, in a move considered by analysts as ByteDance’s attempt to take on Baidu, who is the hegemon in China’s online search market but has been losing ground in the mobile internet era.

Jinri Toutiao is also hitting a bottleneck in its user-growth. As of this August, it had around 120 million daily active users (DAUs) and didn’t generate a substantial increase during the year, according to research firm QuestMobile. Meanwhile, DAUs of Douyin and TikTok, ByteDance’s viral short-form video app, hit 320 million in July, the company claimed.

This article was updated to reflect developments.