Liu Zhen, senior vice president of Bytedance, has resigned, the Tiktok owner confirmed to TechNode on Friday. Liu’s departure comes amid reports that the Chinese internet giant is shifting its center of power away from its home country to focus on global expansion.

Why it matters: A series of organizational changes are taking place in Bytedance as the company moves the decision-making and engineering capabilities of its international businesses out of China, according to a Reuters report published Friday. 

  • The changes sparked concerns from some Bytedance staff that they may become irrelevant in the company’s next phase of expansion and some have started to look for other jobs, Reuters cited three anonymous sources as saying.
  • Bytedance’s organizational changes come as some of its overseas products, especially the popular video-sharing app Tiktok, are facing increasing scrutiny in the west over their Chinese ownership.

READ MORE: Kevin Mayer might be exactly what Bytedance needs right now

Details: Liu resigned from the company because of “personal reasons,” Bytedance said Friday.

  • Liu was in charge of Bytedance’s overseas investment, public relations, and legal affairs, according to Chinese media reports.
    • Liu, who used to handle Uber’s China strategy, joined Bytedance in October 2016.
    • She later moved to focus on Bytedance’s overseas businesses.
  • Bytedance has hired Michelle Huang, a former investor at Softbank’s Vision Fund, as its New York-based investor relations director to communicate with major backers such as General Atlantic and KKR.
    • The relationships were previously managed through Beijing, two sources told Reuters.
  • The company has expanded Tiktok’s research and development team in Mountain View, California to more than 150 engineers, a source confirmed to TechNode.
  • Bytedance declined to comment on the reported organizational changes and overseas engineering team expansions.

Context: TikTok has been under increasing scrutiny in the United States over its Chinese ownership. The company has recently stepped up efforts to comfort US regulators by improving its operation transparency and hiring executives locally, including naming former Disney streaming head Kevin Mayer as TikTok’s CEO last week.

  • However, Bytedance is aiming at moving its entire operations of overseas businesses away from China.
  • LA-based Mayer was simultaneously appointed as Bytedance’s chief operating officer.

Wei Sheng

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...