ByteDance has moved Douyin’s vice president Zhi Ying to lead TikTok’s products and content business as TikTok becomes an increased focus of its parent company’s attempts to diversify revenue streams, according to a Wednesday report by local media outlet 36Kr.

Why it matters: Zhi Ying’s move reflects the importance of TikTok to ByteDance’s revenue growth, with the Beijing-based company set to involve more of its successful executives in TikTok’s development. In December, ByteDance also moved Chen Xi, former head of news app Jinri Toutiao, to head up TikTok’s e-commerce product development.  

Details: Zhi Ying worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers and Uber before joining ByteDance in 2016, where she led the operation and marketing of short video platform Huoshan. Later, she moved to oversee Douyin’s marketing and ran the company’s video-sharing app Xigua video.

  • Zhi is “very competent and has a strong management style, while also being good at expanding business,” sources told 36Kr.
  • Several TikTok managers, including those in charge of user growth, content style, and live-streaming, now report to Zhi, while she herself reports directly to Zhu Wenjia, head of TikTok’s products and technology.
  • ByteDance’s revenue growth slowed in 2022 and the daily active user growth of its products was lower than expected, CEO Liang Rubo acknowledged at an all-staff meeting held in December. TikTok’s sister app Douyin has not publicly updated its user base numbers since it announced in September 2020 that it had more than 600 million DAU. 
  • TikTok currently has over 1 billion users worldwide, with the short video app having a global penetration rate of less than 20%, while Douyin has reached nearly 54% in China, LatePost reported in October last year, citing a TikTok staff member.

Context: ByteDance is sending more senior executives from China with successful track records to TikTok at a time when US officials continue to heighten scrutiny of the app. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is reportedly due to appear before the US Congress next month in connection with the platform’s privacy and data security. 

  • More than 25 states in the US have banned TikTok on government-owned devices and a US House panel is set to vote in February on a total ban aimed at blocking TikTok from operating in the US.
  • ByteDance is also seeking to expand into overseas markets with its team management platform Lark due to profitability challenges in the domestic market, Chinese media outlet Jiemian reported in early January.

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, blockchain, and Web3. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a] More by Cheyenne Dong

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