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Meet Zhang Yiming, the secretive Chinese billionaire behind TikTok who made over $12 billion in 2018 and called Trump’s demands to sell the app ‘unreasonable’

ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming makes his own TikToks — and requires his senior employees to as well.
ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming makes his own TikToks — and requires his senior employees to as well.

Visual China Group via Getty Images; Ruobing Su/Business Insider

  • Zhang Yiming built a $16.2 billion fortune after founding ByteDance, the Chinese software developer behind TikTok.

  • Despite being one of the wealthiest people in China, Zhang is extremely private and little is known about his personal life.

  • TikTok is currently in negotiations to sell its US operations to Microsoft amid a threat of a ban from President Trump, sparking fierce criticism of Yiming on Chinese social media.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The widespread popularity of TikTok has not just created a new generation of social media stars, it’s also created a social media billionaire.

Zhang Yiming, the 36-year-old software engineer who founded the app’s parent company, now has a net worth of $16.2 billion, Forbes estimates. Despite being one of the

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How China’s Ant is evolving from a payments app into a technology champion

This is the second in a series of four articles analysing the Hong Kong and mainland stock markets, delving into the reforms, emergence of the Star Market as a solid fundraising venue, upcoming technology champions and the way forward. You can read part one here.

When Starbucks was looking to boost its digital traffic in China to help sales recover from store closures prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, it turned to Alipay.

The Chinese mobile app with 900 million users scattered across the nation integrated a pre-order and pickup feature for Starbucks into its popular app last month, a service that was previously only available on Starbucks’ own mainland mobile app. The Seattle-headquartered chain of coffeehouses said on July 28 that it sees its China sales substantially recovering by the end of September, boosted by such digital initiatives.

Ant Group, the operator of Alipay, is preparing an initial public offering … Read More