ByteDance CFO Is Stepping Down to Focus on TikTok

TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. said Chief Financial Officer Shou Zi Chew will step down from that role to focus on his position as chief executive of the popular video-sharing platform, a move that comes as ByteDance is reorganizing its business.

Mr. Chew was appointed to the top finance position at ByteDance in March after the company poached him from Beijing-based Xiaomi Corp. , where he served as CFO from 2015 to 2020. He took on the additional role as TikTok CEO about two months later.

ByteDance co-founder Liang Rubo in an internal memo said the company’s finance department would report to him. Mr. Liang is succeeding founder Zhang Yiming as chief executive, as the company in May said Mr. Zhang would step out of that role this year.

Mr. Liang announced a restructuring of ByteDance into six business segments: TikTok, its Chinese version Douyin, work-collaboration platform Lark, business-services unit BytePlus, gaming unit Nuverse and education-technology unit Dali Education.

Its Chinese services Toutiao, Xigua, Search, Baike and other vertical offerings will be grouped under the Douyin business unit, while the TikTok business will support the development of extended business lines such as global e-commerce, according to Mr. Liang.

“As the company’s business evolves and the team grows, each business faces different opportunities and challenges,” Mr. Liang said in the memo, adding that the heads of the different business sectors would report to him. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment further.

ByteDance lists Carlyle Group and Sequoia Capital among its investors. It was valued at $360 billion at the end of February, according to data provider PitchBook.

Privately held ByteDance has faced regulatory hurdles and government pressure in recent months.

In April, ByteDance was among 34 of China’s biggest tech companies that made public pledges to comply with the country’s antimonopoly laws, shortly after e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. was hit with $2.8 billion in antitrust fines. ByteDance was also among 13 companies ordered by the Chinese central bank and other regulators to adhere to tighter regulation of their data and lending practices.

Earlier this year, the company put on hold indefinitely its intentions to list offshore after Chinese government officials told the company to focus on addressing data-security risks, The Wall Street Journal reported in July.

ByteDance’s challenges come after the U.S. government investigated whether the TikTok app poses a risk to national security amid concerns that the Chinese government could have access to the personal data of millions of American users.

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The Trump administration issued an executive order last year that would have banned the app unless it found an American buyer. Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. were in a group engaged in talks to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations, which ByteDance opposed with legal challenges. Federal court rulings blocked former President Donald Trump’s orders from ever taking effect.

The Biden administration in February shelved plans to require the sale amid a broader review of potential security risks from Chinese tech companies.

A Wall Street Journal investigation found that TikTok only needs one important piece of information to figure out what you want: the amount of time you linger over a piece of content. Every second you hesitate or rewatch, the app is tracking you. Photo illustration: Laura Kammermann/The Wall Street Journal

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