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ByteDance’s founder Zhang Yiming to focus on global expansion after firm’s management restructure

Written by Wency Chen Published on 

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The startup expects to nearly double its global headcount to 100,000 by the end of 2020.

TikTok maker ByteDance has appointed two new heads for its China operation, while its founder and global CEO Zhang Yiming will focus on the firm’s expansion in overseas markets, according to a note from Zhang posted yesterday on ByteDance’s official WeChat account.

Zhang will work with Alex Zhu, the creator of Music.ly, to improve the company’s global board, he said. Zhang will also build an international management team wich will include Erich Andersen, previously chief intellectual property consultant of Microsoft, and Roland Cloutier, cybersecurity veteran who worked for payroll-services firm ADP.

Meanwhile, Kelly Zhang Nan, a serial entrepreneur and former head of Douyin (the domestic version of TikTok), will be the CEO of the company’s China business, responsible for the operation and management of products, including Douyin, Xigua Video, Toutiao, and Search. Nan will report directly to Zhang Yiming.

Zhang Lidong, who joined the firm in 2013 as the monetization head, will be the chairman of ByteDance’s China business, overseeing non-product operations, including partnership, strategy, public affairs, and human resources.

Following this leadership adjustment, Zhang Nan (no connection with Kelly Zhang Nan), the former head of Xigua Video, will take the role of director of the Lark team, ByteDance’s productivity application, reporting to ByteDance’s vice president Xie Xin, 36Kr reported on Friday.

“In the past eight years, ByteDance has grown rapidly, from a small product to a platform that provides service to users around the world,” said Zhang Yiming. “This year, ByteDance will increase the workforce to 100,000 employees,” he added.

Currently, the company has 60,000 employees in more than 180 cities and 30 countries around the world, with services covering 150 countries and regions.

Zhang Yiming wrote in the letter that it’s not easy to supervise a team with such a huge size. “We have seen some management problems in the past year,” and admitted that “statistical results of employee engagement and satisfaction have dropped.”

ByteDance’s CEO announced that it plans to visit all regions where ByteDance has set up offices over the next three years to know more about the company itself and learn about the local culture.

“Our goal is not only to establish a global business, but also to build up an organization, which is international, diverse and inclusive,” Zhang Yiming said. “Through a better organization, we hope to inspire every ByteDancer’s potential and creativity to serve a worldwide audience.” 

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