5 facts you might not know about the founder of TikTok

Zhang Yiming is one of the most powerful people you probably know very little about.


August 6, 2020

Photo via: Visual China Group via Getty Images

This week, the founder of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has both attacked the US stance on TikTok and defended its potential sale to Microsoft. Some in China have called him a “traitor.” 

Right now, Zhang Yiming is one of the world’s most powerful founders — and he’s got a rich backstory:

  • He launched his career with a travel startup called Kuxun, which sold to TripAdvisor for a reported $12m+
  • This isn’t Zhang’s first Microsoft rodeo: Zhang worked there in 2008. But he got out fast because “it stifled his creativity,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • When Zhang founded ByteDance in 2012, its first product was Toutiao, an AI news aggregator that skyrocketed up China’s App Store charts.
  • Zhang used the app’s reach to help locate thousands of missing persons.
  • When he launched TikTok — under its Chinese name Douyin — Zhang required management to make videos. 

Whoever got the least likes would have to drop and do pushups. 

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