SINGAPORE—ByteDance Ltd., the owner of popular short-video app TikTok, said Thursday founder and global chief executive officer Zhang Yiming would step down from his role to focus on long-term strategy, and appointed co-founder Liang Rubo to take his place.
Mr. Zhang’s departure comes as Chinese tech companies have come under growing pressure from a regulatory crackdown on monopolistic practices, and after the Chinese short-video company was caught in the crosshairs of U.S.-China geopolitical tensions last year.
His resignation follows an internal executive shake-up in April when Shou Zi Chew, ByteDance’s chief financial officer, was named CEO of TikTok.
ByteDance, which counts the Carlyle Group and Sequoia Capital among its backers, is one of China’s most valuable startups. Mr. Liang is the head of human resources and management at ByteDance. A graduate of Nankai University, the same college that Mr. Zhang attended, he also founded a different startup with Mr. Zhang before they started ByteDance together in 2012.
“I believe I can best challenge the limits of what the company can achieve over the next decade, and drive innovation, by drawing on my strengths of highly-focused learning, systematic thought, and a willingness to attempt new things,” Mr. Zhang said in a letter to employees on Thursday, posted online by the company.