Liu Xingliang, dean of the DCCI research centre, told AFP that Zhang represents a new wave of entrepreneurs and a different breed to China’s most famous tycoon, Alibaba’s Jack Ma.
He is “more like a young Pony Ma,” Liu said, comparing Zhang to the 48-year-old co-founder of Chinese internet giant Tencent.
This is because Zhang “used to be a programmer, paid more attention to products, and knew technology well”, he said.
Bytedance also operates a Chinese version of TikTok, called Douyin. It is the top short video app in China, with over 400 million monthly active users, according to iResearch.
Douyin, launched in 2016, attracted users by bringing on board top celebrities like Chinese actor and singer Kris Wu.
But Bytedance’s first flagship product was the immensely popular Chinese news aggregation app Jinri Toutiao, or “today’s headlines”.