Birth Year: 1983
Country of birth:
2005, Nankai University, Bachelor Degree in Software Engineering
Zhang Yiming entered Nankai University in Tianjin (China) in 2001 to study microelectronics. However, he changed his career to studying Software Engineering. In college, he met his wife.
In February 2006, Zhang became the first engineer to work at the Kuxun travel site, where he was promoted as technical director a year later. In 2008, Zhang quit his job to enter Microsoft, but he couldn't stand the company's corporate rules, so he quit shortly after that. Then, Zhang joined the Fanfou startup, which failed. When Kuxun was about to be acquired by Expedia, Zhang took Kuxun's real estate search business to found his first company 99fang.com.
In 2011, Zhang noted that users were beginning to migrate from computers to smartphones. For this reason, Zhang hired a professional administrator to be CEO of 99fang and then resigned from the company in 2012 to found ByteDance.
Zhang thought that smartphone users in China struggled to find information about mobile applications, while the Baidu search engine mixed the results with hidden advertising. Zhang thought about improving the relevant searches for users with recommendations generated by Artificial Intelligence.
Venture capitalists were skeptical of the idea of Zhang, who failed to raise funds until Susquehanna International Group agreed to invest in the startup. In 2012, ByteDance launched the Toutiao news application, which attracted more than 13 million daily users and more investors. In 2014, Sequoia Capital invested $ 100 million in the company.
In September 2016, ByteDance launched the TikTok video sharing application, known as Douyin in China. The app was a success among the centennials and reached worldwide fame in a few years. ByteDance bought Muscal.ly a year later for $ 800 million and joined the company in TikTok.
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With more than one billion users in its mobile applications, ByteDance was valued at the end of 2018 at $ 75 billion, surpassing Uber as the most valuable startup in the world. Zhang's fortune is estimated at $ 13 billion and is the ninth richest man in China, according to Forbes.
ByteDance's first application, Neihan Duanzi, was censored in 2018 by the National Radio and Television Administration, so Zhang had to apologize since the app was incompatible with socialist values.
At present, the TikTok app has raised the concern of the US government, who claim that it has links with the Chinese government.