One of the billionaire brainboxes behind TikTok is stepping down as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the hit video app.
Zhang Yiming, 38, said he will leave the role because he lacks managerial skills and preferred “reading and daydreaming” to running the tech giant.
He bows out with a net worth of $44.5billion, according to Bloomberg, placing him 31st on a list of the world’s richest people.
It follows a crackdown on China’s booming tech sector by Beijing, which has levied heavy fines — including on Bytedance last month — for allegedly flouting monopoly rules.
Political leaders have also issued warnings to companies’ billionaire digital bosses about their responsibilities to society.
Zhang leaves the task of navigating tightening regulations on Big Tech worldwide to college roommate, long-time colleague and current human resources head Liang Rubo.
In an employee memo on Thursday, Zhang said the change would “enable me to have greater impact on longer-term initiatives.”
He will move to a “key strategy” position at the end of the year, ByteDance said in a statement.
Zhang, who did not address his role as chairman, in the memo called Liang “an invaluable partner” with “strengths in management, organization, and social engagement.”
ByteDance’s biggest management shake-up since its launch in 2012 comes less than a month after its chief financial officer, Shouzi Chew, became CEO of flagship short-video app TikTok.
It also comes as Chinese regulators increase scrutiny of the country’s biggest technology firms.
In April, they slapped e-commerce giant Alibaba with a $2.8billion fine for anti-competitive practices, and last year suspended fintech affiliate Ant Group’s initial public offering.
Anti-trust regulators have also told Tencent they are preparing to fine the gaming giant as much as $1.55billion.
Zhang, who turned ByteDance into a social media force, in the memo said he was not a social person and lacked the skills of an ideal manager.
He also blamed the day-to-day challenges of a CEO as being a hurdle to research and innovation.
“I’m more interested in analyzing organizational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work, rather than actually managing people,” Zhang wrote in the memo.
“Similarly, I’m not very social, preferring solitary activities like being online, reading, listening to music, and contemplating what may be possible.”
Zhang owns 20 per cent to 30 per cent of ByteDance and holds over 50 per cent of voting rights.