According to a report by LatePost, on August 31, Beijing-based tech company ByteDance held an All Hands staff meeting event. Liang Rubo, Chairman and CEO of ByteDance, Zhang Lidong, Chairman of Douyin Group, Kelly Zhang, CEO of Douyin Group, Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, Hua Wei, Head of Human Resources of ByteDance, and other senior executives communicated with company employees through video meeting. During the more than one-hour event, management responded to many problems and challenges facing ByteDance at present.
CFO Julie Gao was also present at the event. In April 2022, Gao, a senior partner of international law firm Skadden, joined ByteDance as its new chief financial officer (CFO). Her arrival was regarded by the wider market at that time as a signal that ByteDance was preparing to go public. Subsequently, Bytedance (HK) Limited changed its name to Douyin Group (HK) Limited, and Beijing ByteDance Technology Co., Ltd. was renamed to Beijing Douyin Information Service Co., Ltd. These moves were once again speculated by the market as an early adjustment for the company’s public listing in Hong Kong.
At the All-Hands meeting, Gao responded to this market rumor, saying, “The company has no specific listing plan or no timetable at present.” Since Gao joined ByteDance, she has been focusing on understanding the company’s business, culture, finance and people, meeting colleagues, users and shareholders, and being “proud of the company’s products”.
Liang Rubo said that many businesses of ByteDance have failed to meet expectations in the past year, and, as a result, the company will increase its investment in key projects while reducing investment in non-core projects. He also reflected on the bloatedness of organizations. “(Business) may not see any problems solved by just adding people, only made worse.” Liang also said that ByteDance has no large-scale layoff plan for the time being. It will put forward higher requirements for new employee recruitment and employee performance. However, as LatePost learned, some business teams in ByteDance have planned to make small-scale layoffs.
Zhang Lidong responded to the uncertainty regarding the current economy environment, saying that compared with its competitors and other companies in the industry, ByteDance’s main business still saw a very large increase in the number of users and revenues. He also said that he is optimistic about the future of TikTok, e-commerce in general and Feishu (also known as Lark), all of which boast great opportunities. Zhang said that TikTok still has room to grow while ByteDance’s e-commerce business is still in its early stages, and its business in China and Southeast Asian countries has just completed a cold boot. According to LatePost, however, as of 2021, Douyin E-Commerce’s paid GMV (gross merchandise volume) was more than 700 billion yuan ($101.4 billion), which makes it the fastest growing e-commerce platform in China.
The day before the August 31 event, ByteDance lowered its option prices to $155 a share from the previous $195 a share, and also released an option issuance. Hua Wei, Head of Human Resources of ByteDance, responded to this matter at the meeting, saying that “The downward adjustment of the grant value is because the company judges that the environment in the future will fluctuate and hopes to keep the valuation stable; On the other hand, colleagues who receives options in the future will also have more room for value-added.”
Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, said at the meeting that as a young global company, one of the highest priorities of ByteDance at present is “earning trust”. He believes that the process of earning trust will be very long and there is no shortcut, but losing trust is a matter of an instant. Chew also used the word “crisis” to describe the current state of TikTok, adding “there are opportunities in danger.”
In terms of global cooperation, Shou Zi Chew said that the company does have issues with coordinating teams across time zones and regions, but still encouraged employees to travel and meet each other.