TikTok owner Bytedance announced Thursday a major leadership reshuffle with company founder and CEO Zhang Yiming shifting to take charge of the company’s overseas business.

Why it matters: Zhang’s direct takeover of Bytedance’s overseas operations indicates that the Beijing-based company is still vigorously expanding its presence in markets outside of China at an accelerating pace despite the increasing scrutiny its flagship TikTok app faces in the US.

Details: Zhang assumed the role of Bytedance’s global CEO and will focus on overseas markets, particularly in Europe and the US, he said in an internal letter sent to employees on Thursday as the company celebrates its eight-year anniversary.

  • The company has appointed senior vice president Zhang Lidong as chairman for China. Kelly Zhang, former chief executive of Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, will take over as CEO for China. The two will be in charge of the company’s Chinese business, according to the letter.
  • Zhang Yiming, the company founder, also revealed in the letter that the company’s global headcount now exceeds 60,000 and the number is expected to reach 100,000.
  • Changes to some of the company’s product lines accompanied the reshuffle, Chinese business news outlet Latepost reported Friday.
  • Zhang Nan, formerly the product manager of video-sharing app Xigua, will take over Feishu, the domestic version of Bytedance’s enterprise messaging app Lark, and report to Xie Xin, head of the company’s enterprise services division.
  • Ren Lifeng, Douyin’s former operations manager, will take over Xigua, said the report, which added that the company is hiring a new operations manager for Douyin.

Context: Bytedance was founded in 2012 and was initially known as Jinri Toutiao, a popular news aggregator app. The company now has a lineup of popular products including TikTok, Douyin, and Lark, and has become the world’s most valuable startup with a valuation of $78 billion.

  • In July, the company said its apps had 1.5 billion monthly active users globally as of end-June.
  • Earlier this month, the company launched Resso, a music-streaming app, in India and Indonesia, making its maiden foray into the online music sector.

Wei Sheng is a Beijing-based reporter covering hardware, smartphone, and telecommunications, along with regulations and policies related to the China tech scene. Before joining TechNode, he wrote about...

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