Zhang Yiming

Zhang Yiming. (ByteDance)

Zhang Yiming is the founder and current CEO of ByteDance. He previously worked for Microsoft and several statups in China.

Zhang recently handed over Toutiao's operations to an early employee, Chen Lin, whom he made CEO in late 2018.

Some attribute Zhang's success to ByteDance's smart acquisitions, and his willingness to outbid larger companies to win sought-after talent:

In China, the Beijing company is controversial because of its recruiting. ByteDance hires top performers from giants like Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., sometimes raising salaries 50 percent and tossing in stock options. Zhang is unapologetic.

"Our philosophy is to pay the top of the market to get the best," says the slight 34-year-old in an interview at the company's headquarters, his first with foreign media. "The company that wants to achieve the most, you need the best talent."